"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Irakunda

I would like to introduce you to the first child from Africa that I knew, loved, and prayed for by name.


This is Irakunda Jean Marie.
He lives in Rwanda. He is in third grade. His birthdate is November 20, 2000. He does not have siblings and is lucky to live with both of his parents.

His family lives in a very dry area. He and his mother spend hours every day hauling water from a shallow well. Many people in his village suffer from worms and other hygiene problems. They are mostly subsistence farmers who grow cassava and sunflowers, but half of the community can not meet their own daily caloric needs. The lack of a balanced diet has caused rampant malnutrition. Malaria is a constant problem as well. Especially for children. The health center is overwhelmed and inadequate. The parents in his village hold education in high esteem. They have contributed from their meager resources to school materials and built classrooms. But there are no sanitary facilities, school desks, drinking water, or enough classrooms to accommodate the children.


Our family has chosen to be a financial sponsor for Irakunda and his family. We donate about $35 a month to help provide more food, health care, and community improvements. We have had this honor for about a year and a half. We are able to send letters and photos to him. He is able to write back to us. His last letter, received just this past Saturday, made me weep.

To my dearest parents,
How are you doing? We are all doing well. We are very glad to receive your card and Sierra's drawing. We love you and pray for you.

Thanks,

Irakunda

Do you know what made me cry? The "dearest parents" line . For $35 a month I can impact a little boy in Africa to the point that he greets me as his parent. Somehow our tiny contribution and quarterly letters have earned us that title.

So I encourage you to adopt your own child. This adoption through child sponsorships is painless! Seriously, $35 a month does not even pay for pizza and a movie. But that $35 will double another family's monthly income! (In actuality the family is not given a check for $35, but the organization uses your money pooled with the sponsorships of other children and families to do amazing things in a community.) There are MANY organizations that you can sponsor children through.

Here are links to several:

www.compassion.com (Compassion International)

www.fh.org (Food For the Hungry)

www.worldvision.org (World Vision)

www.childrensheaven.org (In Ethiopia, we may visit this one)

I dare you to make a difference today!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How are you?

All right, I know what you are all wondering is am I OK. I am. I am also sad and disappointed. I am tired of being patient and strong. I am tired of being the emotional compass for our family. I am tired of being so close but not quite there. I would love the novelty of throwing the covers over my head and feeling sorry for myself for a day. I am exhausted emotionally and spiritually. I can not think of a single reason that waiting longer is good for Joshua G.


I tell you all that because I want to be honest and transparent. I do have lots of yucky feelings. I do not know if not passing was God's will and the reason is yet to be discovered, or if not passing was just simply people messing up.


What I DO know is that in Romans 8:28 we are promised that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." God's plan may or may not be why we are waiting longer. But no matter the why, He has promised to work all these things together for good.


So, when I feel myself starting to throw a pity party, I remind myself that God will work this all out. It will be glorious. I choose to redirect my thoughts to His promises. I choose to remember the verse I give Sierra so often, John 14:1 "Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God."


Now remember that passing court the first time is only a 50/50 shot. Of course we all wanted our case to be part of the passing 50%. However, being in the court system has certainly been a blessing. I am no longer wondering if we will have to travel for court or not. Having a date for our next court appointment (even though April 14 is longer than I expected) means there is a plan. We have some concrete things to wait for. Though I am sad today, I am honestly less troubled than before we had any court date. So chins up everyone. Every family in our agency's history has eventually passed court and brought their referred child home. The record number of court appointments is 5! That is a record I hope not to beat!


There are 2 other families in our city that have court appointments for children they are adopting from Ethiopia this week. Please keep them in their prayers. I am sure our not passing brought extra anxiety! Pray for peaceful hearts, paperwork in place, birth family present, and phone calls with positive results early in the day!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Not Today

We did not pass court today. MOWA (the ministry of women's affairs) had a training on Friday and so did not get the necessary paperwork submitted. Joshua G's birth family representative was able to attend, so at least that part is taken care of.


We have been rescheduled for April 14.


I am sad. I knew this was very possible though. I did not want Joshua G (or the D's) to have to wait longer. But I continue to believe that He who began this work will be faithful to complete it.


I guess I can send in my RSVP card for my cousin's wedding.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Twas The Night Before Court

It is 9:30 here as I type. Ethiopia is 9 hours ahead (maybe 8 since the time change, not sure?!) so that makes it 6:30 AM in Ethiopia. I imagine people rising and preparing for their day. Sometime during this Ethiopian day, a judge will be looking through our petition to adopt Joshua G.


I am filled with emotions tonight.


I have thought a lot about Jesus words in John 14:18. "I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you." I am trusting in and leaning on that promise. Jesus has never left Joshua's side. He has bound our family together with Joshua G. Jesus will not leave this beautiful child he created as an orphan. He will bring us all together. In His time, as He wills, to Him be the glory.


Sweet Jesus. Thank you for breaking my heart for a little boy a world away. Thank you for opening up all the doors that you have opened during these short months. Thank you for bringing Joshua G. to IAN's Care Center where he is receiving great care while he waits for us. Thank you for all the miracles that have happened in this process. I am grateful and humbled by each one. Please, be present in the courts tonight. Thy will be done Lord Jesus. It is my will that Joshua G. become a "D" tonight, but I trust your timing. Thank you for being with Joshua G. as he waits. I pray that he comes to realize the depth of Your love for him. That he would follow You all the days of his life. That we would never forget the miracle of his arrival into our family. That this journey which has been filled with joy and pain be used to glorify you. Amen

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spoiled

My amazing sister-in-law with the help of my wonderful mother-in-law and a few other equally fantastic people threw the most beautiful baby shower for our Joshua G. today. He was totally spoiled!


I have included many pictures, but with so many special people and things happening I just couldn't pick one or two pictures to share. I usually only post pictures if I have permission in advance, I broke my own rule. If I have offended anyone, email me and I will remove you!



I start with one of the biggest surprises of the day. Auntie Teresa made blankets for all our kids. (Jamison, she made 3! He was a blankey boy and wore 2 out!) Since the first 4 kidos were little she has damaged a nerve in her hand, making things like knitting NOT fun. She suffered through knitting this soft blue (had to be blue, just like Jamison's because "every little brother wants to be like his big brother) blanket. She made up the pattern herself and had the sweetest poem attached. I have a feeling this blue blankey will be well loved.


In place of traditional shower games, which I am not a fan of, Teresa asked guests to bring an item that describes the current time to place in a time capsule for Joshua. It was filled with very creative items like TIME magazine, a flashdrive, Sierra's favorite band SKILLET on CD, a hand drawn picture of our family by Brenna, a picture collage by Krissy, the book "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs", an article about the new $2 bills that are coming out along with a $2 bill, a real estate magazine, etc... I plan to add all the cards form the shower and a note about the gifts each person brought and a few other treasures I have collected during this wait.


This is all the presents. I meant it when I titled this post spoiled!


Grammy working hard setting up and making coffee.



Brenna and one of her very favorite people Auntie Teresa.




These are some of my dear friends and family members.




My niece Ainsley, how cute is she?




Ainsley's momma Miranda and her big sister Addi




My sister-in-law Emily and niece Alexa and my inspiring friend Karri and daughter Abbi




My friend Erin - check out her zoo pals cup. It has a lid! They were so cute and very popular with both the moms and the kids.




Carly! I love having a house full of kids hamming it up.





Brenna and Grandma Donna
Notice Brenna's haircut? Very cute, but alas our family picture from Wednesday is already outdated!



Presents! I love this outfit. It is red, white, and blue - like the US flag. Significant to me because I am so anxious for my Ethiopian son to also be an American. (For the record, Joshua G. has a dresser full of outfits I love. This one made the blog because the picture turned out!)



Ellie (my friend Karri's daughter) is truly one of my favorite people in the world. We adore each other. Ellie has an extra special place in my heart these days because my relationship with her was a reassurance when I was deciding to adopt. Ellie was the first child that came to my house for day care in the years that I was a day care provider. Loving her so much and being loved in return has caused me to know beyond any shadow of a doubt the depth of love one can feel for "someone else's child." I have never been concerned that I will love Joshua G as much as my belly babies in part because of sweet Ellie. (For the record, there is a very special spot in my heart for each of the children I was lucky enough to have at my home for day care. I would let any one of them move in in a minute! But, Ellie was the first and there is something special about that. She is also the most open about her adoration of me and boy is that good for a girl's ego!)


This Little People Ark was the centerpiece. It is so cute. Many of the pieces have soft textured parts - like the elephant has soft floppy ears. It is darling in Joshua's animal room. We will have hour of fun playing with it together.




Miranda and my nieces are piggy bank experts! Isn't this piggy so cute on Joshua G's dresser? Cousin Addi even shared some of her moneys.



This funny monkey was a party decoration, but Sierra put it to good use in Joshua's room now. He looks so happy hanging there.
Happy, yep that describes the day! Thank you Teresa and crew for all your planning. It was a perfect party! Thank you my beloved friends for loving me and my sweet Joshua G. so very much! I can hardly wait until he is here and you can kiss his hands! Thank you for destracting me as I wait - just 36 hours or so before court!

Friday, March 26, 2010

(Incomplete) Family Photos

The final picture we needed to send to Joshua G. was of our incomplete family. With the ages of our kids a family picture does not stay current very long, so Wednesday night I talked my good friend Mary into snapping a few.









Pretty cute don't you think?
My friend Kristen had a more excellent idea and she had family pictures taken with their current family holding pictures of the boys that will soon join their crew. Isn't that beautiful?
Since I was not that creative or organized we will have to wait for our first complete (for now at least) family picture.
Oh, and do not read too much into that "complete for now" thought. I have a saying that "my family will NEVER be complete." There will always be room for more, perhaps in the form of nieces and nephews, son/daughters-in-law, and even grand kids someday. It may be a while before more additions take place, but our family will never be totally complete!
On a fun note - I found out this week that Joshua's birth certificate will say "G. Chad D." Beautiful, especially without all the abbreviations for security! We will just add the Joshua when we get everything finalized in the US. It will not be too long and he will officially be a "D"!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Photo Album for Joshua G.

Tomorrow I get to mail off the photo album we have prepared for Joshua G. There is not a family from our agency that will have room in their bags to deliver it for a while, so IAN is shipping it on our behalf.

Here are the pictures we have selected to introduce ourselves. (The front cover has a picture of himself. Can't show you that one... yet.)

Abat & Enat (daddy and momma)

Ehit (sister) Krissy

Ehit Sierra


Wundin (brother) Jamison




Ehit Brenna & woosha (dog) Riley
I have kept it very basic because Joshua G is so young. I am hoping it is easy for the nannies to understand since there will not be a family delivering and explaining it. It is made of padded vinyl and should be toddler proof. I so hope Joshua gets to carry it around by the little handle and drool all over it! (I have been told that he will likely only see it one time, when it arrives. )
Please pray that our images are seared into his mind and heart so when we arrive to bring him home we feel like family.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Preparing to Celebrate!

Some of you know that I love wine. What I love most about wine is the bottles. I love all the different names, shapes, sizes, and colors. I usually drink the more affordable "white-trash" wine from a box, but for really special occasions I love to search out the perfect bottle of wine.




I found the perfect bottle to drink after we pass court , don't you think?

Joshua G. will be our number 5.
Isn't it fun?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Court date!

Oh happy day, we have a court date! The court in Ethiopia will decide on our adoption of Joshua G. March 29. We do not have to be present in court.


I was actually at the dentist this morning. Since I have been waiting for this call, I have my cell phone with me and ON at all times. Just when the hygienist had filled my mouth with film for the first X-ray my phone rang. I checked the caller ID and when I saw it was IAN I spit out all the film. You should have seen the look on the lady's face! Liz gave me the happy news and I had to hang up before I could ask all the questions about travel, etc. Honestly at that point I did not care about travel. I was just thrilled to have a court date and to be a little closer to bringing Joshua G. home. I quickly texted a group of people "court date next Monday." Then I had to turn off my phone - lets face it no one wants an angry hygienist picking on their teeth! She tried to be excited, but really just wanted me to put my phone down so she could stay on schedule!


As soon as I got out of the dentist's office I called Liz back to get the full scoop. She confirmed that we do not have to travel to be at court. Let's just take a minute to celebrate that news. Thank you God! I am beyond thankful to be saved from the emotional and financial expense of 2 trips.

If we pass court next week - remember first time court passage only happens 50% of the time - we should be able to bring him home either the week of May 19 or the week of June 2. Krissy really wants to go to summer school. Since you can not miss any summer school we have been really hoping and praying that our travel dates will work out for her. Either of these dates will allow her to attend summer school. As far as my job goes the dates do not matter, but it would be easier for Chad to manage our family if the kids were still in school when I travel. However, we are so blessed with family and friends that have stated they are willing to help that travel at any date will work just fine.

So..... please pray:
  • that we pass court March 29
  • that our Embassy date (travel date) is quickly confirmed
  • that our friends also receive court dates quickly, we would really love to travel together - It is a day for answered prayers. My friends just called me and they received March 31 court date!
  • that I can focus on all the things I need to get done especially at work before we travel
  • for Joshua G's continued health and well-being, that God will be preparing his heart for us. We are so in love with this little man and he does not have a clue about us.

God willing, I will be able to show you my Ethiopian son's picture on this very blog next week!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

3 Months Ago

Joshua G. arrived at the Care Center in Addis Ababa 3 mo. ago today. I was thinking about that today, wondering how his little heart is doing.

Opening my email tonight, God answered my longing and curiousity in a way I never expected. This evening, my case worker forwarded me a video that a traveling momma had taken of Joshua about 2 weeks ago. This video is the best glimpse yet we have had into his personality. We got to see him SMILE!!!!! It was like God telling me, "He's OK. I am taking such good care of him. See he is happy and content. Just keep trusting me, I will complete this work I started."

What a blessing! Thank you God! Thank you Amber for taking it and sending it to IAN! Thank you Liz for sending it our way on a Sunday! I can not say enough about our wonderful agency, IAN.

Friday, March 19, 2010

2 Months

Look closely... this way-cool, custom-made art references my favorite waiting verse, Habakuk 2:3. My amazing sister(in-law) made it for Joshua G's room. She and my nieces had fun last summer taking pictures of real life objects that are shaped like letters. She has used these letters to make some amazing works of art. She even painted the background canvas to match Joshua's room. I truly love it plus it was a very fun way to celebrate this "anniversary" day.


Two months ago today we saw Joshua G. for the first time. There was never a doubt that he was to become our son. I had worried about "knowing it was him" but when we received his picture and information there was no decision to make. YES! was the only possible response.

I spoke with our case worker today and she assured me that Ethiopia is still assigning court dates. I know so many waiting families and none have received court dates since the confusion with the new law last week. I was beginning to wonder if everything was on hold. That is not a concern. She had hoped that she would have a date for us today, but alas no call...

So we continue to pray for a court date and a one trip travel pass. The good news is that we have not been told no. It is also good that there have been no delays. The Ethiopian government ruling about traveling twice has made getting a timely court date feel much more important, but really everything is right on schedule. My case worker told me 10 weeks from referral to court and it has not been 10 weeks yet.

Maybe next week our news will come?!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Waiting

This waiting is driving me crazy! I have been considerably less productive than usual this week because I am constantly checking my email. When I am at my desk at work I do a task, check my email, do another task, check my email, go to the bathroom, check my email, answer a phone call, check my email... you get the picture. When I run errands I get frustrated if they take too long because then I can't check my email. It is ridiculous!


(Yes, I do have my email set to chime when I receive a new email, but what if it is not working? Yep, I am losing it!)


Yesterday I had decided I would email our case worker and ask her to please call me when she had news about a court date. I had been thinking this would alleviate my email obsession. However before I had a chance to email her with my request Chad got to the office. He asked why I had not answered my cell when he had called earlier. We discovered that neither his call nor his voicemail had registered to my phone. About an hour later the voicemail showed up on my phone. Well the phone idea was out at that point!


This morning before eight I received two phone calls. Our phone never rings at that time. I raced to the phone thinking maybe Liz, our case worker, checked her email from home and was calling me with news. This is not very logical because she is an hour behind us, but my brain is more emotional than logical at this point. After flying down the steps and over the dog gate to answer the second phone call of the morning, I decided I needed to chill out!

Actually I have been trying to tell myself that all week, but it sunk in this morning - I hope. I do not have a choice whether or not we wait for a court date. I have no control over when that court date will be, if we will pass the first time, or when we will be able to travel - but I can control HOW I behave while I wait. I can choose to serve God, my family, my job, and myself with focus, love, and grace.

So all of you waiting out there, not matter what the wait is for, join me in waiting well.

If it seems slow, be patient!
For it will surely take place.
It will not be late by a single day.
Habakkuk 2:3



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Childbirth in Ethiopia


Reflecting on the birth of my first child has caused me to think about what Joshua's Ethiopian mother and her country women might experience when birthing their children. I will give you a brief summary of some of the things I have learned. The only disclaimer I have is that statistics vary in every report that I read. Even those that were dated close to each other had varying statistics. I did my best to use the number "in the middle."



There are VERY few medical professionals in Ethiopia. Only 6% of births take place in medical facilities. In a report I found about the area in which Joshua G was born there were 50 total medical professionals registered. That included trained mid-wives. These professionals were supposed to assist the entire population of the area, all 361,313 people. (This report specific to Joshua's region is 5 years old, so hopefully improvements have been made.) A national statistic that I found dated March 15 2010 stated that there is one mid-wife and three doctors for every 100,000 citizens in Ethiopia, or 1 doctor to 32,000 people. In the US there is 1 doctor to 400 people.



According to this same report 25,000 women die every year giving birth. That means 1 in 14 births result in the mother's death. 300,000 babies die each year. I find statistics that vary from 77 per 1,000 infants die in the first 12 mo. of life to as high as 12o infant deaths in 1,000. Either way it is a sobering statistic., in the US 4 infants in 1,000 die.


I found a very interesting interview that one woman was able to attain with a group of village women in Ethiopia. They tell her about what childbirth is like in their village. Traditionally when labor starts the woman will go to the home of her mother. When she reaches her mother's village all men leave the family hut. The women of the village flock to the hut to give their support and encouragement. Children are also allowed to roam in and out of the hut. Boys are allowed in until the age of 7, after that he will remain OUT with the other men of the village.



Because childbirth is something that is not hidden and has been experienced many times before a woman gives birth herself, they have little fear of giving birth. (This statement startles me. If I had watched many births and realized that it often ends in a death I think I would be fearful.)



As labor progresses the women in the described village chant and pray to Miriam (their name for the Virgin Mary.) When the baby is born, the birth attendant will measure four fingers width of the umbilical cord, tie it with a string, and cut it with a razor blade.


The post partum period is lengthy. New mothers stay in bed for 40 days. The new mother is not left alone with her baby for 10 days. Ethiopians in this area believe a new mother is likely to become crazy and harm her baby during this time period.


If a mother dies during childbirth another member of her family will nurse her child. If there is no one in her family who is lactating, another woman for the village will volunteer to feed the baby.


The little picture on the top of the page is what homes look like in the region where Joshua was born. He was most likely born in a little, round, thatched hut. The interview that I referenced was not with women from the area that Joshua was born, so it may not reflect his birth completely - but it is interesting to imagine don't you think?


Many organizations are working to improve medical conditions and maternal health in Ethiopia.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Which one is mine?

Right after Krissy was born, I was totally out of it. My body had been pumped full of drugs, first pitocin to induce labor, then something to make me sleep between contractions, then something to stop the mild hemorrhaging I experienced right after she was delivered. I was groggy, shaky, and in a drug-induced fog. I was worried I would drop her while nursing, not characteristic of a girl who had been babysitting since I was 12. I didn't even have the focus or energy to call my mom and tell her she was a grandma. It was awful!

I sent Chad home to sleep. (The hospital we were at did not have a place for fathers to stay. He would have had to sleep in a straight backed chair.) The nurses took my baby and I fell into a restless, drug-fogged sleep. The whole time I slept I kept hearing babies crying. It was terrible. I could not quite wake up enough to call the nurse to ask if my baby was OK. I remember thinking that even if I could figure out how to get to the nursery, I would not even recognize my baby.

Finally an angel in nurse's clothing brought me my baby. She could immediately tell that I was in bad shape! She turned on the light and helped me sit up. She set baby Krissy on my lap and unwrapped her. She helped me admire every inch of the beautiful baby I had just delivered. She showed me how to feed her and wrap her up. She got me some breakfast which helped to dilute the meds. I still get teary thinking about how her kindness put me at ease and gave me a wonderful memory of the first time I saw my baby.

This memory is fresh in my mind because I received new pictures of Joshua yesterday. They were only 1 week old. He is more beautiful than ever. His hair has grown into cute curly baby locks. His face shape has changed slightly, less cheeks maybe. In the weeks since the last pictures we received were taken, he has a different look. I seriously doubted for a minute that the little prince in the pictures was our Joshua. I even asked Chad if he was sure this was our boy. He reassured me saying look at the eyes and those ears that poke out just a little. It is him!

Later, I dreamed about going to Ethiopia all night. Sometimes I recognized our son, others I did not - those long forgotten insecurities from Krissy's birth returning in my sleep. I am hoping and praying for an angel in a nanny's uniform to graciously introduce me to my beautiful son when the time comes. This time it may be my baby that needs the kindness and reassurance most.

**Today we received a quick weight and height update. Joshua G. has gained 5 lbs since his original exam. He has also grown a little more than an inch. He is now 33.5 inches tall and 27.5 lbs. If he is 18 mo. old, he is 60% for height and 65% for weight. (Hopefully the little girl whose food I have been told he likes to eat is growing well also! lol) The nurses that examined him noted that he liked to sit and observe others. He prefers regular caregivers and has stranger anxiety - thus the future need for an angel in a nanny's uniform. He still crawls some, but also walks some. He immitates his caregivers.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekend Fun

The kids had both Friday and Monday off from school. We took a quick trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa Great on Friday. The cousins had a very good time playing in all the snow at the farm.
The things I ordered for Joshua G's room arrived on Friday so I spent Saturday evening touching up the paint in his room and Sunday getting things settled. The rocking chair is a long time family piece that has rocked several generations of little ones on my mom's side of the family. It even survived my parent's house fire. I can not wait to rock with Joshua in it. Notice the animal stickers - Brenna helped me get them arranged just so on the walls. She was a fun helper.

Chad and Emily have allowed us to use their girls' crib. It is set up and ready to hold our little guy. The blankey I picked out for him so long ago is waiting on the end of the crib. Brenna put one of the photo album of him and his family inside. "Because he will want to read while he is falling asleep and it is the best book for him."

I have no updates in regards to court/changes/travel. The Ethiopian government has changed the rules about court and future families will have to travel twice. What is still unclear is whether or not they will grandfather cases like ours into the old system. I do not expect to have an answer to our situation until we receive a court date. When will we hear about the court date? SOON, is the only answer I have gotten so far. The not knowing is making me fidgety! Ultimately I can live with either answer, I just want to be able to make a plan and get him home! The uncertainty is difficult.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

No News

There has been no news today, just more confusion. An urgent meeting is being scheduled in Ethiopia to further explain the possible changes. That will take place in the next few days, so I am preparing myself to not have answers until next week.

This was the highlight of my day!


Yep, that is a sign of a BAD day! Typhoid and Yellow Fever shots were the best part of the day. But it felt really good to do something that is getting me closer to Joshua! Krissy got hers too.
Here is the verse that I have been fixating on today. It is Sierra's favorite and hangs in my dining room. Today gave it new meaning.
Now Faith is being
sure of what we
hope for and certain
of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1
There is much uncertainty in our life right now. Business circumstances continue to be less than ideal. Wondering how, when, and under what circumstances we will bring Joshua G. home is nerve-racking. However we are sure of what we hope for - justice in business dealings, a quick court date for Joshua G. and "grandfathered" travel arrangements for all of us. And I am certain of what I can not see. God is working this out for our good.
Some evidence of that... a surprise check in the mail today. We refinanced our house last year and today we received a refund check for the balance in the escrow account. It was a check for almost $2800. That should cover a lot of travel expenses. We have NEVER gotten an unexpected check in the mail before. Now I confess that my defenses are up so high that when I first opened the check I panicked. My first thought was that something bad was going to happen and we were going to need this money. UHG! That is not how I want my brain to work. It is not how I will allow my thoughts to linger. Why could it not be a positive thing? We had planned to sell our old camper to pay for my and Joshua G's travel expenses. We do not have it ready to go yet, so perhaps travel plans will come quickly? I am choosing to focus on this unexpected money as a sign of GOOD THINGS to come!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thanks!

Thanks for praying, worrying , and encouraging us. I appreciate all the support we have. Not everyone has that blessing! I am humbled and grateful!


I go to bed tonight peaceful. "He who started this work will be faithful to complete it."


I expect miracles. Our family together asked God tonight that this news would bring Joshua home sooner rather than later. I expect the best.


I also confess a smidgen of doubt and despair.


God, I believe. Help my unbelief.

This has been a hard season. We are being stretched so much. (I thought I would be exempt from stretch marks this "pregnancy"...NOT) But nothing lasts forever. Our life will be easy again, someday. I am looking forward to that day!


May it be sooner rather than later. And to God be the glory for His faithfulness during and after the storm.

I love you!

Please PRAY Now!

I just received word from our agency that Ethiopia has changed some of its adoption policies. They are requiring all adoptive families (both mom and dad) to travel to Addis Ababa to be present for the court appointment. We would then either stay until all Joshua G's documents were ready for travel 6 to 8 weeks later, or return home without Joshua and THEN fly back to ET in 6 or 8 weeks to bring him home. This is majorly stressful news, because...
1. Chad had not planned to go to ET at all. We have not budgeted the time or money for his travel.
2. How do I go to ET and meet my son and return without him?
3. How could I do my job from ET? We do not have a back-up for my position. I can be gone for a week and then do less than usual for longer, but I have no idea how I could be gone for 6 to 8 weeks.
4. Sometimes families do not pass court the first try - would Chad need to stay until we passed or just for the first try???
5. How would Krissy and my mom come with?
6. How do we pay for an extended trip?
7. What about my other kids... I have left them for a week BUT 6 weeks or more!

OK I could continue, but you get the picture!

SO what I need from all of you is to pray like crazy. You see our agency is trying to get families who accepted referrals more than a month ago grandfathered into the old policy. Please pray that we will be able to follow the old policy.

OK in defense of the Ethiopian government they have decided to put this policy in place because of the growing numbers of parents who decide NOT to bring their children home once they meet them. YUCK!!!! Imagine being that child that is abandoned twice. It makes me so mad I am injuring the keyboard as I type. Many countries have a 2 trip or extended stay policy in international adoption. I don't think Ethiopia is out of line to ask this of parents. I am just freaking out because we did not plan for it and may not have much time to plan for it. I expect a court date any day. Court dates have been 2 weeks after they are announced lately. That could mean that Chad and I will be required to be in Ethiopia in a couple weeks!

AND I THOUGHT I HAD ENOUGH TO WORRY ABOUT BEFORE I GOT THIS EMAIL!!!!!

OK I have had it! I am tired and stressed and weary. I need a break! Please pray for this whole situation and all the families it could affect. I will post more information as I receive it. I do not usually post things without all the details, but I really need your prayer support on this one. I do not want us all to freak out and overreact, God has a plan in all this. I don't know how it will all sort out, but I know that he will be faithful.

My agency is going to try to get more information to me tomorrow. I will of course relay whatever I hear.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Want to see my "secret stash?"

I have a little collection of things I have purchased for Joshua. Once in a while I just can not stay out of the toddler section! Here is what I have not been able to resist:

I have bought him 1 outfit. I am thinking size 2T?! I have also picked up his blankey, a package of sippy cups, 2 photo albums, a monkey towel (it even has a little tail!), the Fisher Price airplane set and a few extra people, the monkeys in a barrel game, and Krissy added a baby cellphone.


I plan to send one photo album after we pass court. The other one holds more photos and we will bring it when we travel. I also plan to pack the airplane set. It is pretty big to try to squeeze in, but I think playing airplane before we fly together will make the plane easier. Krissy has convinced me to take the batteries out. She has wisely noted that listening to the song it plays for a full week will make us crazy!


Chad's mom gets the bug too! She has picked up a couple outfits for Joshua G. as well.



Krissy made Joshua G. this little backpack in her FACs class (home ec. for us older folk). She did an amazing job. I can hardly wait to see him model it!
AND... I got a new update from a traveling momma today. She wrote:
G. : Oh, I am in love with this boy. He is a chunk! He tries so hard to climb up the stairs and then gives me a huge grin. He is the first face I saw when I walked through the doors the first time. Oh ya, he loves to eat F.'s (another little girl's) food.



I confess that these updates are bittersweet. I am so glad to get them, but they make me so jealous and lonesome! I was feeling worried today that we might never meet this little boy and bring him home. My caseworker reassured me that they have NEVER had a family NOT pass court. (sometimes it takes a couple tries) There is no guarantee, everything has risks, but so far EVERY child referred has come home. So, I need to chill out!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dossier Translation Complete

I received confirmation today that our dossier has been translated. Everything is ready for court. Hopefully we will be assigned a court date soon. Typically the date you are assigned is not too long after you hear it - like 1 to 3 weeks.


I also received a notice from the US Visa processing center that they have sent all our approval documents to the US Embassy in Ethiopia. Everything is just hanging out waiting for us to arrive.


All good news!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Moved In!

Chad spent the weekend working on Sierra's room. His first task was to lay carpet, which was going really well until...


Riley wanted to "help"!


After chewing on a few scraps, he decided to check on Chad's workmanship.


He was a tough inspector!



Eventually my extremely patient husband gave him the boot!
(Don't his sad golden boy eyes almost make you feel sorry for him?)



The carpet turned out beautifully! Today Chad installed the baseboard - notice the lack of Riley? (Yes, it was intentional!)




Here she is! Sierra was so happy to be in her beautiful room trying out the bed she has been waiting to sleep on since her birthday in November.




And my sweet Chad relaxing with a much deserved celebratory drink. Brenna snuggled into her favorite spot right next to him. (Brenna is a major fan of her dad. She explained to her favorite grown-up friends at church today that her dad "always says YES! He's a YES MAN!") Look carefully, Riley has been forgiven. He is in the corner of the picture right by Chad's feet!


We have to build out the inside of the closet and finish and install the closet doors to make it officially complete - but Sierra is trying to fall asleep in her new room as I type! She has moved in! Thanks to her daddy!


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Memorized

video

This is a video of Sierra playing a piece called, Raven's Call on the piano without the book!!! :-):-)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sneak Peak


Here is the first item I have purchased for Joshua's room. I fell in love with this picture that says "We flew across the world to find you". It even looks beautiful with the current paint color! I know it looks a little girly in the photo. Don't worry I have some more stuff coming that will change that! I bet you wonder what else I have planned? You are going to have to wait and see...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Talkin'" in my girls

Brenna has always referred to being "talked in" instead of being tucked into bed at night. If you have ever had the extreme pleasure of spending this time with her you would know that she has come up with the perfect name for it. She loves to cuddle and read and share her thoughts, hopes, and dreams. I love it - but it is NOT a time that can be rushed! (I have tried and in those instances we both end up frustrated.)

Anyway, tonight we had an especially good chat. She has been reading to me in a Junie B. Jones book. (If you have a K through 2nd grade child you have to read something from the Junie B. series. They are so funny! I seriously laugh out loud!) In tonight's reading, Junie B. is wishing her little brother had never come to live at their house. Brenna did not approve of Junie B.'s thoughts. She said that Junie B should be very happy to have her little brother at her house. We talked abut how hard it is to wait for her little brother to come home. We also talked about how families sometimes bug each other. I have tried to prepare the kids for a rowdy 2 year old to enter their world, and explain that there will be times that he bugs them. Brenna's response was, "True. But I am still glad that I have a family and lots of sisters and brothers. I have a friend that only has a mom and a dad and a dog. That would be boring! I am glad I have so many people to love." What a wise 1st grader I have been blessed with.

Next I climbed into Sierra's bed. It was a night for talking, I guess, because we had a great chat as well. We received 2 new pictures of Joshua G. today and in those pictures he looks like he has grown so much. He looks healthier and stronger. We are thrilled - but Sierra also expressed sadness. She told me how she wants to be able to watch Joshua G. grow. She said, "Mom, I don't want him to get any bigger until he comes home." I had been having those exact same thoughts all night. I am so thankful for the pictures, but I want to be watching him grow! I want to be with my boy!

Sierra also shared how she has been imagining meeting Joshua for the first time. She told me where she will be waiting at the airport when we get off the plane. She described how she pictures her little brother smiling at her, how good it will be to hug him. We were both teary at that point. I told her I had pictured the same thing a million times. When Chad and I returned from Mexico I had to distract myself as I walked through the doors of the airport into the public waiting area because the image of walking through those doors with our son in my arms and the rest of my family waiting just outside was so powerful. The longing is HUGE!

In the end we hugged and prayed together. Our prayer went something like this:
"Dear God, thank you that G. is safe and growing in Ethiopia. Thank you that we hear such wonderful things about the care he is receiving there. God we really want G. Joshua to be home. We want to witness him growing, getting stronger, sleeping, eating, gigging, crying, playing, and snuggling. Please bring him home soon. Please continue to watch over all of us while we wait. Amen"

Then Sierra told me that she can hardly wait for Joshua G to sneak into her new room and mess it all up. " That will be the best, Mom. And we have to take lots of pictures of the mess he makes cuz you know 2-year-olds are supposed to get into everything. I just can't wait for that!"

I AGREE!

**We ordered carpet for Sierra's new room tonight. Chad will lay it this weekend. So we will have Sierra's new room ready for her little brother to mess up before you know it.

**Tomorrow is Friday! I love Fridays!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"I'm so glad God chose me to be your mom!"

I can not remember a time when I did not want to be a mom. Having babies was always one of my goals. I drug dolls everywhere when I was little. I gave them long, old fashioned names like Elizabeth. I began babysitting as soon as I could convince someone to entrust me with their kids. In fact almost every job I have ever had was child focused.



I started bugging Chad about, "When can we have a baby?" shortly after we got married - at 19! However, for various health and family history reasons, I was never totally convinced that I would be able to be pregnant. When Chad finally agreed to "my" baby, I warned him that it could be a loooong process. With the confidence of a 21 year old male he responded, "Give me three weeks!"



To my amazement, I was pregnant 3 weeks later. I was totally thrilled, but also very aware that every pregnancy was a miracle. I loved being pregnant. I savored every stretchmark, kick, and hiccup, amazed at the miracle occurring inside of me. I could hardly wait to meet our baby.



The first night I lay Krissy, our firstborn, into her crib for the night I prayed with her the prayer that I prayed with my parents as a child. "Now I lay me, down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die, before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." When I got to the if I should die, I wept. It became crystal clear to me how NOT in control I was of this precious little one's life. In that first night at home with her I knew I had to entrust her to God. He may have allowed me to carry her in my womb, but I did not create her. She was His child. But, He had chosen ME to be her mom. It was not a coincidence, but a divine match. Wow!



I am so glad that I came to this realization so quickly. It has changed how I see my role as a momma. When I tuck our kids into bed at night I often tell them how thankful I am that God chose me to be their mom. Recently Brenna told me I tell her that all the time - she knows (bored voice and rolling eyes)!

Her bored response to my declaration of gratitude was a wake-up call to me. One of the things I had been working through was how different Joshua G's arrival into our family is than the arrivals of each of our "belly babies." I suddenly woke up to the fact that his arrival is more alike than different. God has chosen me to be Joshua's mom just like He chose me to be the mom of Krissy, Jay, Sierra, and Brenna.

If you doubt that Joshua G's being referred to our family was God's doing, please reread much of this blog. Additionally, I recently discovered that during the time we were gathering the documents for our dossier - "the magic ticket" to the waiting list - there were several boys in the age range that we were thinking our son would be that were waiting children. There were families that committed to these boys and THEN started working on their dossier. I had heard rumors that this was possible, but since our caseworker never offered the opportunity I did not look into it. If she had recommended that we look at the paperwork of one of these waiting boys, we may have committed to a different child! Instead nothing was offered and when our dossier was ready we were put on the waiting list since there were no waiting toddler boys at that time.



Now as we wait for Joshua G. to come home, I am grateful to be chosen once again. Joshua did not grow inside of my body in the same way our first four children did, but his birth into our family is just as divinely chosen. It is really hard to wait to hold him. Pregnancy was easier in that I was near our babies all the time. I felt like I was doing my part to take care of them by eating right, exercising, taking vitamins, going to the doctor... This time my son's care is totally out of my hands. I get pictures and videos of this beautiful little boy and all I can do to care for him and protect him is pray. I can not fool myself into thinking I have some control. But in our weakness He is strong. He is teaching me to trust Him so much more deeply. And in His perfect time I will be holding the 2nd son He chose for me.

Monday, March 1, 2010

18 Years Ago...


18 Years ago today... well actually it was a leap year so Feb. 29... a very young Chad asked a slightly younger Alicia to be his girlfriend! 18 years! That means I have been head over heals with Chad for more than half my life.


I rejoice today because when I look the man who is my boyfriend of 18 years, husband of 15 years, father of my children, my boss, AND my very best friend I see someone I love and respect more than ever. I am so blessed by my Chad!

So - thanks handsome man - for asking me to be your girlfriend. We had no idea where it would take us. For that matter we still have no idea where we will travel together, but I have no doubt that every path will be traveled together. I love you!

**How young were we? Chad was a senior in high school. I was a junior. We were married 2 and a half years later. Young love, strong love, true love... remember the Judd's song? We are going to make it through the hard times!