In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Friday, December 30, 2011

In a Week From Monday . . .

we will be boarding a plane for Ethiopia. Say what??? It feels impossible. We are so used to waiting and waiting and waiting some more, but with M's adoption everything has been right on schedule and now our court date is even WAY earlier than I expected. M's birth mom has her court date on January 4th. That date feels like FOREVER away. We know that she could change her mind any time between now and when she gives the final word. Yikes!

So, here is the plan. We get on a plane next Monday, we travel across the globe for 24 hours and get into ET on Tuesday night. Wednesday we head down to Awassa to visit the Goose. As it stands, our agency, as well as many other agencies, are withdrawing their support of the orphanages in the south, tomorrow. Therefore, we have no idea what to expect when we get there? Will their cupboards be bare? Will we find they have more than we imagined? Will the kids be happy? Will they be hurting? We have no clue? What we know, is that if we do in fact travel, we will have 3 days to HOLD, FEED, SNUGGLE, PLAY WITH, AND LOVE ON Goosey and the other kids at Ajuuja. I can't wait. We don't know if we will ever see him again, but we will, at least, have those 3 days. THEN . . .

We will head back to Addis and meet M! I'm sure I will be reeling from loving and leaving Goosey, but I am trying very hard to get ready to live this trip one hour at a time. Love the child in front me, whether it is Goosey, M, or any other child that God puts before me.

I got a message from a friend today that met M this morning. She said that she is adorable and that she is full of smiles and giggles (until the camera comes out, of course). I couldn't be more excited to get that kind of a message. I didn't even know she was at the care center yet, so the message was such a fun surprise. I'm sure that M is confused and grieving and trying to make heads or tails of her situation, so to hear she is giggling gives me a little sense of peace about her well being.

I know this is short, but I'm just excited, and have a million and a half things to do before the 9th. One of them, is to collect more formula. Many of you have given so much already, but some of you haven't. Just kidding:) But if you do have formula that you are not going to use, then we would love to take it off of your hands. Like I said, we don't know what they have, but Ajuuja will no longer be supported financially by the two agencies that were working with them. I just can't imagine that they will have much.

In closing, we are still praying for a miracle with N and the southern region. I have more confidence now that we will see a miracle, even though all signs point to nothing ever happening. Please pray with us for that miracle. If I can ask for a couple more things that ya'll could pray for, I would greatly appreciate it. Of course, safe travel and my kids who we will be away from for 10 days! I'm afraid, we'll get some practice with attachment and bonding with Leah, after leaving her that long. She is pretty sensitive about us leaving (as well as choosing the wrong hair tie, asking her to get in the car, giving her the stink eye, etc. . . . ) , so I'm a touch worried about that. You could also be praying for our hearts to be able to handle spending three days with Goosey, leaving him, possibly forever, and then turning around and meeting M. It sounds like too much to handle and it would be, no doubt, if we didn't know the One who could hold our hearts so safely, when we place them in His able hands.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A New Referral!!!!!!!!!

It is with much hesitation, hopeful expectation, guarded hearts, and great joy that we are finally announcing the acceptance of our referral of (almost) three year old "M." It's true - we have a new picture of a Q - T - PIE hanging on our fridge these days. She looks a little frightened in her pictures, but she has these huge brown eyes, a bit of an underbite and the coolest puffy hair I've seen in quite some time:) There is really no other way to describe her than a "lil punkin."

I felt like today was finally the time to post it, because we were actually submitted to court yesterday, which feels like a monumental step. It felt a little too premature to announce it in writing before passing this step. Not that this is a done deal (can you tell we are somewhat gaurded), but it seems like the ball is moving forward with little M. Just for the record, we are still praying our hearts out for Goosey and that someday we will reach this milestone with him. However, this post is not about him - it is a celebration of a new child that will be practically twinning Leah??? Lord have mercy!

While, I'm sure you all can imagine the swirl and complexity of our emotions, I'm surprised at how excited I am about this precious girl. I'm surprised that each time I see her picture, a natural smile draws across my face. I wasn't sure that was how it would play out when we got a new referral, but by God's grace, he's given us, new love for our new little one.

Well, if I don't stop writing now, I'm sure I'll find myself wandering into the "swirl and complexity of emotions," so for now . . . Woo-hoo for little, puffy haired M!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hopeless

It's 11:00. I am trying to move. Get ready for the day. Go to the grocery store. Get ready to host a cheery cookie exchange tonight for our Sunday School class. But something has changed since yesterday. At about 10:00 last night, we received an email from another person in our same position. Someone who also has a child at Ajuuja. Someone who talked face to face with our agency yesterday about this situation and the long of the short of it, is that things look pretty grim. The facts are, that our agency gives a surprisingly high dollar amount to Ajuuja each month. Referrals have been moving at a snails pace for the past six months, which has obviously limited the amount of money that has come in, recently. How long can our little agency really support Ajuuja, while the regional government won't release any of these kids. Also, if they don't withdraw their financial support, then this regional Mowa will continue to get the benefits without having to do the work. The hope is that this will drive them to sign the paperwork. Needless to say, the towel is being swirled overhead and is about to be thrown. But as soon as the towel is thrown in, the fallout is severe. Our agency will no longer have the rights to the children in the orphanage. This will all take place fairly soon. What does this mean for the Goose? That is the hardest part. What will happen to him? Where will he land? The orphanage can not survive without our agencies help. The orphanages in the region are already overcrowded and losing funding from other agencies that can no longer support them. Kids are already being left on the street there. There is a famine there.

Everyone knows adoption is often times met with great disappointment. However, many times the disappointment, (which I am in no way, shape, or form minimizing), is hard because birth parents change their minds. In this case, N does not have known birth parents, and he has no known relatives. Who will feed him, hold him, love him?

So, in all these questions, we are asking, "Where are you, God? Do something! You set us on this path. This is the eleventh hour! This is when you are supposed to move!" As we both expressed our anger and disappointment with God, we still knew in our heart of hearts that there is nowhere else to go. Through tears and grief we prayed. Not like we ever have before. There wasn't any, "thank you for this day," "give us guidance," "help so and so." It was a prayer from a place of grief that neither one of us have ever experienced. It was a prayer that was so hard to pray, because we were praying big - praying for a miracle. Praying that the heart of the person who is responsible for signing off on N's paperwork would be moved at that very moment to sign his papers. Praying for N, who is the ultimate sufferer in this. At the end of this long emotional plea with God and after the word "Amen," we both said something that must have been impressed upon us by God. "This is how God must feel when he wants his children to be at home with him." Most of the time when I think of Jesus, I picture him walking around with his arms extended, head slightly tilted, a calm and joyful presence seeping out of him, with a few kids, adults and a lamb or two in his wake. I don't picture him weeping as we were for people to come to know him and "come home" to him. We are separated from N and he is ours. He is our son.

As you can see, our hope in this situation is gone. It feels hopeless. I've thought a lot about hope in light of this turn for the worse this week. I've heard a lot of people tell me things about hope, but I don't think that if I hope hard enough, that N will get to come home. When I was in elementary school, I was in the kids choir at church. Throughout the year we could choose to take on the challenge of memorizing verses, have good attendance and memorize hymns. Since hymns are a thing of the past, I know that the hymns I still have memorized are from the time in my life. So, thank you Ms. Pat for making me memorize them for a time like this:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

We still do hope that N comes home, we hope he is OK, we hope we will get a new referral and grow to love that child as much as we love N, we hope that if we can't bring N home that we can get him somewhere safe, we hope we can see what God is up to in all this, we hope for so much, but we know that the only thing we can really know is the hope of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cliffhanger Still Unanswered

I know I left everyone with a cliffhanger on the last post and I was hoping that by now I would have pulled everyone up off the cliff, with a direction we are headed, BUT we are still waiting. Waiting for an additional referral or waiting for N's paperwork to get signed. I will say that his file has actually been looked at, documents have been gathered, delivered, and probably ironed, pressed, decorated, bedazzled and anything else that would help it get signed, but they JUST WON'T SIGN IT! It naturally doesn't make any sense to us, whatsoever. It defies any logic. It is truly unexplainable. If there is a word for being way way way way way frustrating - then that is also what it is.

Five and half months and still no signature. The beautiful part of that is that God has probably heard the name of our child thousands of times by now. And if you could just see him, you would know that God has heard our prayers. I know you have heard me say it before, but he literally has the most beautiful smile. If you could just see his little video, you would know that there is just something special about this little guy.

We have been through the ringer in the past 5 months. Sure, we were given a referral that wasn't quite ready. We have spent extra money flying over there. We have cried so many tears. We have been angry. We have grown tired. We. . . . We . . . . We . . . . . However, WE are not the real sufferers in this scenario. It's funny how what one person can say, can change your perspective entirely. Someone on our agency facebook page wrote one time that we have to remember that it's the kids in ET that are really suffering, or something like that. OF COURSE, I've thought that, but something about the way she so simply stated it, just changed my outlook. We are not the ones that don't have enough to eat. We are not the ones that do not have a mom and dad. We are not the ones that are going to lose two more sets of caregivers by the time they get to America. We are not the ones that lie in a little box all day. We are not the ones that have four toys to play with. We are not the ones that rarely go outside.

I've expressed in way earlier posts about my fear of how all of this time in the orphanage will affect N's life, my family's lives and ultimately my life. How would everything have played out if we had not gotten a referral when we did? We would definitely still be waiting for a referral and our referral would still likely have come from this same orphanage . . . only much later. Our referral would probably read that our child went into the orphanage at 10 days old and now they are a year old. I know that I would look at that and think of the statistics. I would be thinking that I would want a child that has been in the orphanage for 4 and a half days, is the healthiest baby that they have ever laid eyes on and has remarkably come with a guarantee that this child will fit perfectly into any family. I seriously might not be too excited about taking a referral of a child that has been in an orphanage that long. TERRIBLE - I KNOW. I'm just saying, I know how selfishly I think and I know that is what I would be thinking. But when we got that picture of N, he became our child. When Dave met him in person, he really really became our child. Now, even if it took 5 years to get him, we still would. We will celebrate N's arrival here, even though we know he will be bringing with him some challenges that he might not otherwise have, if he were allowed to leave the orphanage when he was supposed to.

I don't totally know my point, but I have just been thinking about that lately. Could I possibly actually be thankful for this time? Maybe just a little tiny eensie weensie bit. I hurt every day for N, but I think I might just love him so much more because of this time.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Big Decision

A little over a week ago, we got a letter in the mail from our agency. In it, they expressed their apologies for putting us through the past five months of torture and they gave us options for what is next. The options were to stay the uncertain course with N, return to the waitlist for another referral and say goodbye to N, or get back on the waitlist AND wait for N to become available.

For about 48 hours, it was literally difficult to catch my breath. This was a HUGE decision. The second option was off the table for sure - after Dave met little N, there was no chance we were going to be able to say goodbye to him. The option to stay the course didn't feel like much of an option, because who can live in that state of limbo for an indefinite amount of time? On Thursday morning, I had the whole morning to myself, so I finally had a good chunk of time to read a little of the old B-I-B-L-E, journal and just pray. I walked away from that time about 90 percent more calm, a regular heartbeat, a normal breathing pattern and basically with an answer. I really felt like God was saying, "You don't even have to make this decision . . . .I will." So, by Friday we had our answer and that was to leave the door open for two kids from Ethiopia. It is out of our hands now. If N's paperwork gets signed before we get a new referral, then we will just be brining him home and I would be so happy! If we get a referral and then N's paperwork gets signed, then I will be so panicked . . . and so happy!

If I had to guess right now, I think we will just be bringing N home, but Dave would guess the opposite. Things seem to be moving with N's paperwork, but the regional Mowa where "the Goose," lives, has been stalling and breaking promises every week, practically, since July, so I don't put too much stock in the "next week" and "tomorrow" promises we continue to hear. So, I wonder how all this is going to play out? Will N's paperwork get signed today? Will we get referral by the end of this week? Will we be making four trips to Ethiopia next year? Will we be be buying a car that will fit 4 kids? Will I ever even get to hold N?

Stayed tuned to find out what happens next.





Thursday, November 3, 2011

Husbands

Last Monday, was definitely a new low, as promised in my last post. Our paperwork again, was not signed and we sit here two weeks later, and no paperwork still signed, which leads us to have to make one of the most difficult decisions that we may ever have to make. That is not what this post is about though, even though, that is what is on my mind in my sleep, my awake time, and pretty much all the time that I am not teaching piano. Thank God for teaching. I LOVE it! Not only because it takes my mind off of my adoption hardness, but because kids are just so fun to teach. My students probably have no idea how much I love them, or they might think I'm kinda weird. Anyway . . . That is what my train of thought is like lately. All over the place.

So, back to last Monday's new low. It was no longer time to hold it together. It was time to explode. All the togetherness, I had mustered up in the previous months, broke loose. Not in a somber quiet way, but in a raging crying way. I'm embarrassed even thinking about it. I will say, that what ignited the downfall of my demeanor was receiving a SECOND notice of speeding by one of those picture taking police vehicles. I can assure you that I am a slow driver. In fact, I think that all that these tickets prove is that I am a slow driver. One was for going one mile over the speed limit (there is a touch more to this story, but for the sake of the story, just roll with it) and the other was for going 5 miles over the speed limit, in a 25 zone down Colorado Avenue. Seriously! So, that is what put me over the edge. I felt like governments all over the world were just trying to stick it to me and I am a decently good person . . . . . . . . to everyone, but my husband, that night.

Someone, was going to feel my pain and my anger, and it wasn't any of you. That night, I couldn't understand how he couldn't be crying and weeping like me. How heartless can he be? He should feel what I am feeling, WHEN I am feeling it? Right? He was saying heartless things, like, "Just try to put it out of your mind." "You need to detach, Holly." "It'll all work out." And the list of quick fixes continued. In my mind, he may as well have been saying, "I hate you, Holly." I didn't want him to fix anything, I wanted him to feel what I was feeling and I made sure that happened. I'm not patting myself on the back. In fact, it kinda reminded me of "You've got Mail" when Tom Hanks talks about how he throws out zingers and then wishes he could take them back. That is what happened. I hit Dave where it hurt. And when I saw it, part of me felt good, but most of me didn't. He lashed back for a couple minutes, but then stopped, put his hand on my arm and began to pray. What??? How did he do that? Just minutes before I was shooting red arrows of fire out of my blue eyes at him and saying hurtful things and not even on accident!

Sometimes I wish I was one of those adoptive parents who have on their profile things like, "I married my best friend and each day I have with him is like a day in someplace way better than paradise, etc. . . . . . . " I'm not quite there with Dave, but there are moments like these, where I am in awe of him.

Well, I know this post isn't related to our adoption, but it is certainly related to our adoption life. It is hard to go through something this crazy, when the other person that is going through it, doesn't always react the same way. Hopefully, I can have as much grace as Dave did last Monday, when he is dealing with things in his own way. And, hopefully, we can arrive on the same page with our big decision that we need to make. And, yes, that is another giant prayer requests for those of you not too tired to keep praying for us and "the Goose."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Big Week

My post last Thursday was pretty pathetic sounding, I know. I wish I could say that I wasn't as pathetic as I sounded, but that would have been a lie. Anyway, thanks for letting me unload that day. I was able to move on from there and actually have quite an enjoyable weekend of doing pretty much nothing productive. My goal was to get my laundry all put away, but when it is in the mid 70's and there is a snowstorm coming in a couple of days, I figure the laundry can wait, right? We just had to be outside this weekend. I'll post a couple of pictures.

Part of the reason this weekend was not too shabby is because of the hope that I have for the next couple of days. I hope this hope isn't misplaced! On Friday, we were told that the regional MOWA that has had our paperwork on hold for almost 5 months now, has been told by the regional government (at least that is what I have understood, so don't quote me on that), to sign off on all completed paperwork. That is us!!! Our paperwork is there . . . it is compleetoe . . . now somebody, please, just take a pen and sign it. Two members of the ET staff should be there now, ensuring that this step will be done, so we can move on to the next (and welcome) step of waiting.

I can't help thinking that this will be it. This will be the week that we have been waiting for, for so long. I have admittedly said that if it doesn't happen on Monday or Tuesday of this week, it will be a new low and after last week, I'm not sure how low that low will be. We have heard many a time, that our paperwork is going to be signed, but this just has to be the actual time. I can see some of you cringing as I may be setting myself up for utter disappointment and trust YOU ME, I'm scared to even find out the fate of the next two days.

Well, it is late, so I won't drivel any more. I have enjoyed the weekend, knowing that I won't find out anything, but tomorrow the clock starts on finding out if we will indeed graduate to the next level. Feel free to throw out a prayer or two or twenty for the next two big days even if it is just right now and for 5 seconds. I'd really love it
A trip to the Penny Arcade
Leah Getting in the Spirit of Halloween
Spence and Leah at Happy Apple where we picked out the pumpkin we carved this weekend.

Spencer lounging on the hike we took on Saturday.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blessed in a Non Happy Way

I have been hanging on to a rope with this adoption lately. I haven't been swinging on it, and I haven't been climbing it, I've just been hanging on it. I just let go, though. I'm swimming in the mud. It has been a very tough week, to say the very least. Back in August, we were told that our adoption may not ever be completed, due to the southern region of ET closing themselves off to adoption. At that time, we were told that we could move forward with another referral if we wanted. We were also told that we could move forward with another referral and have the option to continue the adoption with N if he ever became available. The 3 families in this position all opted to stay the course with our referrals until we were certain that things looked ultimately hopeless to continue. Then in September, we were told that things were moving forward again in the South and they were going to start signing paperwork. They said they would finish signing paperwork by the end of September. And here we sit, with no paperwork signed, STILL.

What makes this week so difficult is two things. First, the option to move forward with another referral is now off the table, as of yesterday. The thought that maybe God wanted us to have a couple of kids from ET and that this is the route he was going to choose is what has made this extra wait palatable. I will say, there is some relief in that option being taken away from us. I don't have to be thinking of what car to upsize to, or paying for preschool (or college for that matter) for 3 more kids or how large the laundry pile and grocery bill would grow to be. But it still feels like a loss.

The second reason for this week being so emotionally difficult is very selfish and I know this. It feels like there were a lot of people hanging on the rope with me for the last couple of months, but now all, but the other 2 in my same position, have just scampered up the rope and are now swinging in the trees. Court dates have been handed out, families have passed court, and families that got their referrals at the same exact time as us have brought home their babies already. And the clincher, new referrals are ready to hand out and we are going to have to watch them fly past us while our child is still hungry in an orphanage millions of miles away. I am happy for them and that is the honest truth, but with all the swinging in the trees, it has shaken me off my rope.

If I were to end my post here, I would name it, "In the Mud," but I'm not done yet. As I mentioned in my last post, it has been difficult for me to even pray or to look for comfort and encouragement from God on my own. But from time to time, I'll hear something that allows me to catch a breath of fresh air or two, even if I'm in the mud. Two Sunday's ago, our sermon was on the beatitudes. Because God's word is living and active, it can hit you right where you are in a way you have never experienced.

Matthew 5:3 says, "Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" Our pastor described the translation of this "blessed" as "heading in the right direction." It means something much different than the typical "happy" that we usually associate with being blessed. The gist was that we know when we are on the right path that God has for us when we are poor in spirit and I can tell you, that is where I am. I am out of spirit, in fact. We think that God wants us when we look and feel our best, but it is totally opposite of that.

Matthew 5:4 says "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Usually, I think of mourning as in someone dying, but in this case, it is talking about mourning for the brokenness of the world. I feel like I have been awakened to a bigger picture of brokenness, through this process. The political systems, the corruption, the very picture of my baby being left somewhere, because his mother and father couldn't take care of him is just pure brokenness. I wish there wasn't a need for adoption and I wish that adoption was so much easier than this, but it is because this world is full of brokenness. The next part of the verse, says that I will be comforted. So I trust that I will make it through this day and through this week and the next.

Well, I'm not sure that my kids actually want to watch another cartoon, so I guess I better get going. I've got my adoption portion of my day over with early. Now it is time to push it back, and have a normal day. I hope it will be a good one for all of you who read this today.

P.S. - If you have ever tried to comment and it didn't work, I think I fixed that setting. I know that reading anonymously is sometimes nice, but if you ever want to comment, you should be able to now.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dave has Returned from Ethiopia




Where to begin. I feel like I'm sitting in front of my budget that I threw out long ago and am attacking it again. Surely, many of you have been there before, right? I'm overwhelmed by all the things I have to say and I have kind of dreaded writing, because I don't even know where to begin. Some of if is because I don't know how much to share. What will come back to haunt me? What will my agency not be pleased with if I write it here? How many readers will think that all I do in life is think, dream, cry and live adoption, thus live a depressing life? So, know that while the adoption world is VERY depressing, our lives are still full, by the grace of God. I mean, Spence, at this very moment is in his room, singing at the top of his lungs, "I'm gonna jump, jump, jump, jump, jump for joy." Even the first part of that sentence brings me joy . . . "he's in his room," while I'm out here with some free minutes.

So, my last post was about Dave traveling to meet N and what a trip it was! It accomplished everything that we wanted (at least all the things within reason) and he had a great time doing it:

1. We feel like we got a clearer picture of why we still don't have our paperwork signed after 4 months of waiting (it should take a week) and he was able to talk to the orphanage director who was going to TRY and talk to MOWA and convince them to move our cases to the top of the list.

2. It was confirmed that paperwork in his region IS moving again - Praise God!

3. He brought much needed formula, vitamins, medicine, and food for N's orphanage. It is here that I would like to literally pour out my gratitude for those of you who donated formula, vitamins and anyone who has donated money along the way. I can't thank you enough. Truly, truly truly. Even if I don't ever get you a personal thank you note, I am beyond appreciative and grateful!!!!! He brought literally hundreds of dollars worth of formula and he bought hundreds more dollars of food while he were there and it still doesn't feel like it was enough. If you saw how little our 6 month old baby is, you would know why.

4. Dave got to see where our little boy is living. N is seriously loved there. All the kids are!

5. Lastly and most importantly, Dave got to meet N. He is so amazing!!!!! You would just die if you saw his huge smile. It literally takes up his whole face. I wish I could post it here. He is so so so tiny and he doesn't want to put any weight on his legs. However, by the third day there, he was already starting to put a little weight on them, thanks to Dave's PT work. This part is the very VERY hard part, obviously. N needs to be in therapy already, he needs to be seeing a Dr. to figure out why he is not gaining any weight, he is hungry, he has a yucky cough and the list goes on.

To feel like you can't speed up the process and to know that the process from here on out is just getting more difficult and lengthened, is enough to literally take away my breath if I think about it for more than about 10 seconds. I'm shocked at how adept I have become at stuffing my emotions. When I was only a month into this drama, people were probably petrified to even look my direction for fear of needing a case of kleenex on hand. Now I just feel like I need to let it out once in a while, and then from there I can pack up the kleenex and move on. I'm not saying that is a good thing, I'm just sayin' . . . . .

You would think that this would be a time of great spiritual growth in my life. I think it is a time of growth, but not because of anything I am doing. I am not tearing through the Bible understanding new facets of God each day. I am not going to bed listening to the words of wise spiritual leaders that shed eternal light on my situation. In fact, a gymnastics teen drama, named "Make it or Break It," has been successfully distracting me at bedtime, so that I can push aside adoption and actually fall asleep. That is just how spiritual I have been lately. I pray many times a day, but usually I have to add at the end of the prayer, "Lord please pretend that my heart is in this prayer." It goes back to wanting to not feel pain, so I just don't. If I enter into prayer too deeply, it just hurts a little too much. What I AM doing is holding on to my faith. Holding on to knowing that God set us on this path and he will see it through to the end. And I do believe that I WILL be able to say, when all is said and done, "Look at what God has done." But I'm too much in the middle of it right now. I can't say that . . . YET.

So, those of you who are pray-ers and good thought senders . . . We still need some serious prayer and good thoughts for N and for this process. I am so blessed to have supporters around us and I know that it feels like this process is long, that maybe your prayers should be portioned out to others by this time, but we still really need them. If you see us around, please indulge us by letting us show you how beautiful he is. That smile of his and all of you is what will get us through the next grueling year!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dave is Headed Over!

I know I said I was done talking until our adoption was more certain. It is not, but my thoughts continue to brew, even while our adoption sits dormant.

It seems silly now that I got pretty emotional at times about the list not moving fast enough, or even that we weren't submitted to court before they closed. That seems like child's play now, like when your child cries over an enforced bedtime, while the world is falling apart. They felt like big things at the time.

The strange thing is, while our adoption is in a complete state of limbo, I am actually handling it OK (this week). This is what I can't figure out. If I am going to go with the spiritual answer, I would say that I came to the end of my rope and I have nothing left, so I have no other choice than to let God carry me. The whole idea from 2 Cor. 12:9. "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." Maybe I have no choice, but to trust God and maybe I am learning to do that. That would be great if that were the case.

OR

Maybe I am learning to become numb to it, in order to enjoy my kids, load the dishwasher, teach piano, play volleyball and enjoy time with friends and family. I am staying very busy on purpose. I have very few weekends that I don't have a string of social engagements and I like it that way. Down time at home is only an invitation to sink into the adoption mire.

Of course, it is also helping that Dave is flying over to see "N" in less than 2 weeks! After getting a little picture of "N" today, I'm sure that it will be better that Dave goes, instead of me. Sometimes I wonder if I love "N," because it doesn't even feel like he exists at times. But when I got that picture this morning, I was so happy (and very very sad). I'm sure you understand.

Part of why Dave is going is probably just to feel like we have some control over something. Another reason, is to just check on the little guy. We don't get medical updates, or growth charts, or paragraphs on how his personality is emerging. We get a picture about every 2 months, at weird angles and while he is sleeping. We actually don't even know if this child will be ours, but at the very least, Dave will at least have met him.

One last reason he is going is to bring FOOD and a couple other items. That basic need of life that we so often forget that others don't have. The needs of his orphanage are great, but we are mainly limiting our packing to formula, baby cereal/food, a couple bumpo chairs and some Children's Tylenol and vitamins. Dave may take a change of clothes, too:) Orphanages get their resources from adoptive parents. Since no kids have been leaving his orphanage, no new kids are coming in. Obviously, this presents a huge problem. With no new kids coming in and getting referred, there is no new money coming in, either. So again, even if "N" doesn't end up being our child, Dave will have at least brought some food to an orphanage that is struggling to provide.

Anywho . . . that is the skinny on our adoption to this day. I thought it would look very different by this time. Some of you are probably starting to wonder if we are just making up this whole story about "N." I promise he is real and hopefully, someday, you will all get to meet him.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goodbye for Now

"Writing in Pencil"seems very fitting for our blog title right now. However, until I can write in something a little more permanent, I think I'll have to say goodbye.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

4 Months Old Today

Today little "N" is 4 months old. I am so proud of him (and his momma) for being one of the few well nourished kids that enter orphanages in Ethiopia. It's really the only thing I know about him, so I'm going to be proud of him for that. The last picture that I saw of him was when he was 2 1/2 months old. I'm sure he is doing so much more now and I'm certain that he is a favorite of at least one of the nannies, if not all. I just know he is! I just wish I could enjoy his little smile and his noises and attempts to roll over . . . both ways! Unfortunately, it's going to be awhile, folks. For this reason, I feel like I'm fighting the good fight to stay out of the swamp called sadness, but my feet are slipping and my hands are losing their grip. I need a boost. I'm gonna need a lot of boosts throughout this indefinite process. So, don't judge me, please, if I take trip to Vegas, even though we have raised money for this adoption. I feel like I need to get on a plane to somewhere. I told Dave today that I'm getting the urge to fly over to ET again. I want to go see him, sooooooooooooo badly. I want to go and put his paperwork in front of the local MOWA that has stopped processing any paperwork and convince them, that keeping my baby (or the 350 other kids in his same position) there, is not in the best interest of anyone on earth!

For those of you who don't know the story, he is in a region where the local MOWA thought it would be a good idea to go through and shut down a bunch of orphanages for a variety of different reasons. That sounds noble if there are orphanages that are violating rules affecting the care of the children, but from what I understand they were shut down for not providing enough humanitarian work outside their walls. In all, 19 orphanages were shut down and then all those kids went into the existing orphanages, thus creating overcrowding. From what I understand, the orphanages are at total capacity and they can no longer accept new kids. It has also caused them to lose track of some of the kids, so I am grateful that they, at least, know where "N" is. This is where it would seem logical for them to sign paperwork, so that they can move kids into care centers in Addis. Logic seems very lost at this point.

I have no redemptive words this time. Just that I'm slipping. Maybe when he is 4 months and a day, I'll be back on top of the rock I've been sitting on the past few weeks.

P.S.-Spence just asked when we are going to get "The Goose" (his nickname). I said "not for a long time." Spencer said, "aren't we gonna die, though?" I hope it won't take that long!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Do we stay or do we go?

In one of my more desperate moments on this roller coaster, I posted that I was looking for connections in Awassa, because I was ready to change this years plans to include a 2-3 month stay in ET. Thank you to all who responded with helpful leads, email addresses, personal stories and even warnings. I appreciated all the input, so thank you.

I have gotten some clarity on whether or not to travel to ET between court and Embassy. Two weeks ago I was 90% sure that we were gonna do it, but after new information and some time to get some perspective, I'm am about 90% sure that we won't. The whole point of going was to intercept "N" before he changed locations and caretakers, again. Initially, he wasn't going to move to the care center until after we passed court and now he will get moved to the care center a week before we go to court. Then, just last week, the US Embassy changed the rules. Even if you pass court, you can no longer take your child out of the care center until Embassy clears you, so again, the main reason for going doesn't even exist anymore. And in the midst of all that, God kept asking me, "Do you trust me?" And I kept basically saying "no." I'm not going to say that I think things will turn out all tidy and neat, but I'm getting to the point where I do feel like I am learning to trust Him with baby "N."

So, in this phase when the courts aren't opened any longer, there is no inkling of a chance of getting a court date anytime before November and we have decided not to travel between court and Embassy, I feel strangely excited about simply meeting "N." More than ever before! I am excited to hold him, rub his fuzzy head and just see what he is like. I think that the turning point from desperation to excitement (and I'm not claiming that this will last, BTW), was at Lakeside Amusement Park, of all places. My kids were riding rides with not a care in the world, contagious laughter and the biggest smiles in the world. (See below). I just thought that next year at this time, "N" could be riding these rides with our kids, with the same carefree laughter, squeals, and excitement. All of this unnecessary waiting and all this craziness with getting submitted to court will be a distant memory and in it's place will be our little "king." Yeah!!!!!!!! I can't wait!




Thursday, August 4, 2011

Overnight

One summer when I was in junior high, most days you could find me at Nicole Penner's house, carefully crafting our trampoline routine to Amy Grant's Ageless Medley. I bet if you gave me a trampoline and that music I could still perform some of my routine, minus some of the flips. Most kids at that age were NOT listening to Amy Grant, but I loved her and loved Jesus. I didn't doubt that God was real and I had a quiet time nearly every day. I was very serious about my faith and I didn't care that I didn't know the words to "Smokin' in the Boys Room," like everybody else.

I have gone on to love many other genres of music and become a real cool cat, but I can still say that when I hear Amy sing, it brings me back to a time when I had a real innocent faith and trust in God. This adoption journey has been (and at this rate will continue to be) a challenge to my faith and a faith builder at the same time. In the words of my close friend, Kate, "Go Big or Go Home." That is how I feel in my faith right now. I've gotta either Believe Big or Forget It.

I have had a difficult time understanding why he is not answering prayers for so many of us in the throws of adoption in ET. On good days, unanswered prayer has left me scratching my head, and on bad days, it has made me question God. If God cares so much for these kids, then why is it so hard to bring them home? That being said, I also think that if God really did, in fact, call us to adopt, like I think he did, then I really doubt that he is going to jump ship and say, "now that you are half way through, I'm outty." I simply can't believe in God if I don't believe that he will take care of this situation. But it is hard. One of the two things he keeps telling me is, "hold on." Everything I have read or heard or listened to keeps saying, "hold on." So, I'm holding on and leaning in.

I just have to leave you with a newish Amy Grant song that I'm sure will be carrying me through the weeks. Some of you won't have time to listen to it, but if you are in the middle of adopting, you should try to find a couple of minutes. I hope it will encourage you.
On

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do you have a connection in ET?

At this very moment we have a little baby in Ethiopia that is in an orphanage in Awassa, Ethiopia. He arrived at his orphanage, Ajuuja Children's Home, at 10 days old. He is now a little over 3 months old. Our paperwork has stalled out, due to the local MOWA taking on more authority in his region and for some reason they are not signing off on paperwork. Nobody in our agency is quite sure why and they are uncertain as to when they will begin signing papers again. If it is not submitted before the courts close from August 6th to October 15, then we are looking at a terribly long time before we even get a court date. All that to say, we are considering going to Ethiopia to stay between our court date and Embassy (6-12 weeks, hopefully) to prevent another move to a different care center and to start our life together. So, I am throwing out the net to see if anyone has any connections in the Awassa region of Ethiopia. We will be one of the first families in our agency to actually go to Awassa, so we don't know any first hand experience of the city. If you happen to know of someone who runs an organization or has been there on a mission trip or has any experience there, we would love to talk to them. You can either facebook me or leave a comment below.

We don't know if we will actually do this, but we are starting to pray that God either gives us a big NO, or that connections start being made and pieces start falling into place. Even if we do choose to go over there, it is sooooo important that we get submitted to court before they close in a week. So, I'm begging you all to please, please, please, pray with us. We would truly covet those prayers. Thank you everyone.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stand in the Rain

So, the question for myself has become, "How do I navigate this giant obstacle in our adoption journey?" I feel like I have to choose between two paths. One would be to put "N" somewhere near the back recesses of my mind for a few months and just carry on with my life. Be a pleasant person to my husband, kids and those around me. Part of me wants to just enjoy our family as it is right now and part of me feels like it is the right things to do, because then my attention is on my kids right now and I am savoring the time that I have with them. As soon as I start to feel the pain of not being able to meet and bring home N for such a long time, I feel like my kids that are at home suffer. I am not as patient, not as attentive and not my usual fun self:).

However, what seems to suffer when I put N in the back of my mind is prayer. I pray for N and I ask others to pray for N, but I don't PRAY for him. I'm not on my knees, begging and pleading. I only really feel the desperate need for God to step in and carry me through this or the desperate plea for him to bring about a miracle when I feel the pain of not getting to bring my baby home. I want him home because I love him and I want him home because I want the best chance of him having fewer emotional scars (which I know I just need to get over).

Like I said in my last post, I have changed over to listening to more Christian music lately, because I am just searching for encouragement. There is a song by Superchick and the lyrics are:

She never slows down.
She doesn't know why but she knows that when she's all alone, feels like it's all coming down
She won't turn around
The shadows are long and she fears if she cries that first tear, the tears will not stop raining down

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down
You stand through the pain
You won't drown
And one day, what's lost can be found
You stand in the rain
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/s/superchick/stand_in_the_rain.html

I wish that sometimes I could just stand in the rain, cry, plead, stand my ground, not fall down, and the rest of the time I just want life to be normal. Do you think I could do both? Maybe it's possible?



More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/s/superchick/#share

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Emotional Muck from Being Stuck

It seems like the two times I blog are either when a new step in our adoption process has been achieved or when I just have to get some of the emotional muck out of the way. Since we are no closer to getting a court date than the day we received our referral, this post would fall under the emotional muck category.

Generally speaking, if you had a "normal" (which there is no such thing) adoption, we would have heard what our court date would be by now. As luck would have it, we STILL have not even been submitted to court at this point. From what I understand, the regional MOWA is making some changes and somehow we got stuck in the middle of it. They have to sign off on our paperwork, but there is no paperwork coming out of that region. It could happen tomorrow, but the clock is tick tocking toward court closure on August 6th.

I can tell you that this low lying frustration with our stuckness results in a low level ache, but on occasion it rises to the surface. The signs that it is bubbling to the top are when I become less patient with my kids, or a random tear here or there, etc . . . However, I always know when I'm nearing my ability to cope with things in my own power, when my music and reading selections begin to shift. When I skip over Katy Perry's, "California Girls", for a good old fashion and mildly nerdy (or outrageously nerdy according to my husband) selection from Amy Grant's "Collection" album. When I put down the latest page turning medical thriller for Philip Yancey's "Prayer, Does it Make a Difference?" I'm searching for words of comfort, words that remind me that God is still working to weave our family together, words that encourage me to lean on Him, words that tell me that it is OK to feel the hurt, but that beauty will rise soon enough in the face of our child.

Maybe I am being mellow dramatic, but my baby is in Ethiopia for an indefinite period of time! I'm not going to claim that life with a 4 and 2 year old is boing and I just need a 3rd child to spice things up a bit. I am honestly a smidge curious to see how things roll (or rock) around here when "N" arrives. Anyway, I'll leave you with a couple pictures of the 2 kids that currently reside here and you can just imaging what it would look like to add a little brown baby into the mix. If you think of it, please pray that his paperwork will make it to the courts in Addis before court closes in a couple of weeks, so that we don't have to just imagine him being with us.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bummed & Encouraged

It has been exactly 4 weeks since we saw the cutie little pictures of "N"!!!!! We love him!!!! We do not love that some missing documents are preventing his paperwork from visiting the inside of a courtroom. BUM-MER! Big time, bummer! As each day passes, the likelihood that we will know our court date before it closes, diminishes. I am still so happy that we got our referral when we did, even though he wasn't totally paper ready on the ET side. It's hard to wait, but I get the privilege of praying for this little one, (and all of the pieces of paper that come with him). So, while I am most definitely struggling a little with this whole lengthy court date business, I read a blog from someone who was at his orphanage a year ago. I hope I'm not breaking any plagiarism laws here, but this is what someone wrote about where our little man is probably waking up to start a new day right now:

We learned a little about the orphanage, and were impressed with the care the children receive, even with limited resources. There is a full-time nurse, and a part-time doctor who manage the health of the children. There are many nannies, and each bedroom has a particular nanny who is in charge of those children. They sleep on the floor (literally, they showed us the straw mats they use) in their assigned rooms. My face must have shown my shock about the sleeping on the floor bit, and Ato Girma explained "It's so when they have to go to the bathroom, or if they need a glass of water, the nanny is right there to help them." So sweet! My fears of Engida crying out at night and his cries being unaswered were immediately alleviated.

Another blogger wrote that each child is "genuinely LOVED" and also praised the orphanage, the staff and the nannies. Both bloggers eluded to the idea that their resources are very limited, but the love the children received was evident.

So, thank you God for bringing little "N" into this world. I truly wish that little "N" was not in that orphanage, but with his birth parents. However, I am so grateful that it sounds like he is in a loving environment and we are so hopeful that he will be in our little loving environment soon.

P.S.-I know this sounds crazy, but besides the skin color, he actually kinda looks like Dave.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Prayer of a Different Variety

There is a paragraph in Shauna Niequist's book, Cold Tangerines, that just makes me laugh when I look back. It is about the prayers she prayed the days following the birth of her first child. She wrote:

"So I prayed out loud, fervently, like I was at a revival. Dear God, please please please keep our baby healthy and alive through the night. Thank you thank you thank you for him and please please please keep him safe through the night. I wasn't creative in my language, but what I lacked in vocabulary, I made up for in intensity."

I laugh, because that was me when I brought Spencer home from the hospital. Then when Leah came home, my prayer became a little bit more about me. Something like, "Please please please let her sleep, so that I can sleep and feel half way normal again."

This time around, they sound different, but are still pleading prayers. They are certainly more wordy, not only because there are so many more pieces to pray about, but because I'm not sleep deprived and hormonal. My please please please prayer is that he and his nanny have a sweet and tender relationship and that N feels loved. I please please please pray that God is holding him and that, again, N feels loved. I also pray for his last piece of paperwork to be submitted to court so that we can get assigned a court date before the courts close, that we can get him formula, which they are evidently running low at his orphanage, that there are no complications or roadblocks in our process, that he is developing wonderfully, that we will bond, that they take him outside and play with him, that we get to bring him home before Christmas, that he stays healthy and that God is already beginning to sew our hearts together, etc. . . .

In the same chapter of Shauna's book she says (and I feel the same way right now), I also believe in God because I have to, because I need someone to pray to with my rabid, sweeping mix of fear and love. I have to believe in something else, I think, or I'd lose my mind. I think I would blow a fuse in my brain every night if I couldn't entrust (N) to God for safekeeping while I sleep.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Big Giant Garage Sale

We had a gigantic garage sale on Saturday, and in the words of one of my friends, it was a true picture of community! For the past couple months, friends have dropped off items to contribute to our garage sale, transforming our garage into a scene from the show "Hoarders." I'm sure some of our neighbors think we just own a LOT of junk! We had to rent a uhaul to transport the items to the garage sale location, and then we had to make additional trips with our 4Runner. We, also, had friends who baked cookies and sold coffee, water and sodas. And it doesn't stop there. We also had friends who gathered gift certificates and held a raffle for them. There were literally hundreds of people who came to our sale. It is not really a neighborhood garage sale day, it is like a city wide event. I can't wait to attend the garage sales next year! All that to say, we brought in about $2,500. The whole day we rarely made a sale over $10.00, but there were just so many people who purchased something that it all just added up. At the end of the day we only had to make 2 trips to the Goodwill, with mainly clothes. Seriously - Unbelievable!
So, thank you to:
The Sheridans for letting us use your yard
Everyone who donated their stuff to the sale
Everyone who came to the sale
Anthony for helping to load and unload
My parents for helping with everything all weekend
Dave who worked so hard all weekend
The Moores for selling treats
The Holtzmans for organizing the raffle
The Wilshusens for bringing treats
The Manzanares' for dinner that night

It's amazing to think that little N's life has changed already, although he has no idea yet. I can't thank you all enough for already entering in to N's life! We truly feel blessed to have friends like ya'll.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our One Week Referral Anniversary

A week ago today, we saw a picture of our cutie little 2 month old, "N." As you could imagine, the range of emotions has been great. I think I mentioned that the first couple of days, I was on cloud nine with excitement and wonder. Then I saw a picture of his room and noticed that he was in a crib without any slats and his room just looked so stark. That made me panic. How could his brain develop correctly without the latest Baby Einstien toy and without any visual stimulation? I had to get over there! The court closure will, no doubt, will extend our court date past September at this point, so we won't even get to meet the little guy for MONTHS. I called our coordinator to see if we could go visit him before we had a court date. She said that they allow that and would totally support us if we decided to do that, but that it rarely turns out for the better with infants. She said that parents start making requests of the nannies and the nannies get irritated and the last thing I want is for the nannies to have a reason to not love our baby completely. As our conversation evolved I realized that going over there would be for me and not so much for "N." So, after some reflection and prayer, I felt like God was saying, that I simply can't control much of this and that my biggest job right now is to pray for "N." Surprisingly, I have found a lot of peace in that (at least for 2 days now). I have also found a lot of peace in a prayer that a friend prayed that other day (which may sound strange), but she prayed that God would send angels to entertain little "N" in his crib and give him the interaction and stimulation that he needs. God can do that! It's often times kids that see angels, while the adults can't.

A couple other little things have happened lately to remind me that God is STILL in control of this whole business. One is a cute story about a friend just randomly having a very specific toy photo book that I wanted to send with the next traveling family and the other is money. While we still have a long way to go to cover the cost of our two trips to Ethiopia and some fees while we are there, God has continued to provide. A friend said the other day that they would adopt, but they just didn't think that they could come up with the money. I told them that they can watch how God will provide our remaining 10 grand or so. He has been faithful this far and I believe we will make it. That being said, I hope our garage sale will be a huge success this weekend. (It's like I think we'll earn like 5 thousand dollars this weekend or something:)) Even more than just providing the money, though, it is such reassurance that God is so involved. He has chosen this child for us.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Can You Even Believe It!

I can't believe it! I have a picture in front of me, of a little 1 and a half month old baby boy! He is half way around the world and he is going to be ours!!!!!!

Here is how it all went down. Dave happened to have the day off yesterday, so I went to the gym, got my teeth all polished up, went to Target, left my wallet at Target - you know. . . . the usual errand running sort of morning. When I got home, I checked the updates with our agency and saw that there were a couple of girl referrals, so I asked Dave if the phone rang. He said "yes" and I said, "what if our coordinator called and you didn't answer?" I checked the caller ID and said that she had in fact called (which he totally didn't believe). So, I called her back, and sure enough, there is a little itty bitty baby over there in Ethiopia who is waiting for his parents to come and get him. Dave and I yelled and hugged and the kids cheered (although they might have just thought that dessert was coming or something). All that aside, this is the baby that God has for us! Our coordinator sent his file AND PICTURES over and our whole family gathered around the computer to catch the first glimpse of his tiny little self.

Pure excitement was the first emotion, followed by a little bit of shock over how young he is. We had it in our minds, somehow, that we would be getting a child over the age of one. I have even tagged a lot of the baby baby stuff for the garage sale (on June 18th on the corner of Cascade and Fontenaro), because I was pretty sure about getting an older baby. Even last week, while tagging some of the baby stuff, we joked about how we'd probably end up getting the youngest baby ever now that we were getting rid of stuff. It took me about 3 hours for the shock feeling to go away and for the excitement to re-overtake it all. I'm so excited to, HOPEFULLY, see his first steps, his first words etc. . . and I love how we have a baby picture of him! Followed then by a little bit of desperation. There is certainly a part of me that seriously wants to just fly over there right now and hold him! These will be some long months!

I have heard that he, most likely, will stay in the orphanage until we pass court. I was a little nervous about that, but I have been assured that the orphanage that he is from is very clean and the nannies are very loving. He is in a crib that doesn't have slats, so I'm scared that he is just going to be looking a wood all day and over the next few months. Right now, (and always) he is God's to take care of, so I am just praying my heart out for this little guy. His name means "king" by the way.

The next step, you ask? Wait for a court date. Unfortunately, there is only a tiny chance that we will get a court date before the courts close for a couple months in August and September. It would be nothing short of a miracle if we did get one before that. So, when we get our court date, Dave and I will fly over there and meet our little king and attend court. Then, once we pass court, we will get an Embassy date and be able to bring him home. All of this will take way too many months, I'm sure. I'm really hoping that he will be home by Christmas!

I can't post pictures, but I can show them to you in person. Needless to say, my phone battery was at 8% last night after staring at his picture every two minutes. If you don't get to see a picture, trust me, he is a cutie, all wrapped up in his pink blanket and wearing a white, knit hat. I'm sure it's very chilly over there right now, so I'm glad he has a ski cap on:)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dreams

One of my lifelong dreams is to adopt a child (or two), but this post isn't about that sort of dream. This is about the dream I had last night. I keep hearing rumors that referrals are coming (and one just did -YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), so every night before I go to bed I think about when our referral is going to come. On that note, it was no surprise that I dreamt about receiving our referral. It did not go down at all like I think it will in real life. Our agency called, we got a picture of a little girl, but she was about as pasty white as I am. When we inquired about her, she wasn't from Ethiopia at all. She was actually a "love child" from an executive doctor where Dave works and he was trying to hide this child by putting her up for adoption. Our agency told us that it was this child or no child. In the end we did accept her referral, but we were trying to figure out how to explain how our Ethiopian child was not Ethiopian. Then I went on to dream another strange dream, but I'll spare you all the details of that dream.

I still think that our referral could come tomorrow, in 8 months, or anywhere in between. Things still seem to be moving with ET adoptions, although not very quickly on the referral list.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Incomparable

Sometimes, I ponder the comparisons between pregnancy and adoption. There are a few similarities, a lot of differences and the same end result.

In pregnancy, the first trimester is marked by being tired, nauseated, and somewhat uncertain, until you get to that 12 week appointment. In adoption, I would describe the time between signing on with the agency and going on the waitlist as the first trimester. Gathering all the documents to create your dossier certainly takes a toll on your energy and each time the notary dates don't match or you have to send off for another expensive document that you can't find, a wave of nausea isn't far behind. The trainings can also bring to the surface a feeling of uncertainty, when you hear of all the risks of adoption. So, overall, the 1st trimesters are similar. Oh, and both of them also come with great amounts of excitement.

The second trimester in pregnancy is typically the honeymoon period. You are a little more relaxed about the pregnancy, you start to form an actual baby bump, instead of just looking bloated and you can even go on long walks (or runs if you are that type of person), knowing that a beautiful baby is forming inside. The second trimester in adoption would be all the time between going on the waitlist and accepting a referral. I would still say that it is the honeymoon period of the whole process, but it is not quite as honeymoonish as a pregnancy. You can certainly take long walks, the paperwork is mostly behind you and you get to celebrate every time you move up on the list. However, the big difference that I can see between pregnancy trimester 2 and adoption trimester 2, is that in adoption tri. 2, you have no idea when it is going to end. I mean, could you imagine being about 20 weeks pregnant for an undecided amount of time? You don't want to rush the honeymoon period, but you sure would want to know when it was going to end. At least I would.

The third trimester in pregnancy is definitely when you are ready to move that baby on out and start eating 3 meals a day, instead of 20 mini snacks every 30 minutes. You know that life will be hard and busy and sleep deprived, but you are just ready. The 3rd trimester is just not a lot of fun. And then the contractions - good golly! As bad as contractions were, I'm sure I would take that kind of pain over meeting your baby, leaving him, and then having no control over when you get to go and pick him up. Even though the 3rd trimester of adoption is going to be the most difficult by far, I'm still kinda ready to get there. I'm still enjoying the honeymoon 2nd trimester, but I'm having to remind myself to enjoy it, more often.

I wonder if I am thinking about pregnancy vs. adoption, because we have been on the waitlist for 9 months (and 1 day) now. WOW! In case you are wondering, I honestly think that paper pregnancy goes much faster, but maybe that is just because I have a couple of cuties to keep me busy all the time.

Well, hopefully, the next time I post, it is because we will have an update in numbers. The referrals have been awfully slow lately, but that is OK, because I'm just gonna sit here and talk myself into enjoying this nice long honeymoon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Plane rides

This past weekend I was on a plane. I was headed to the semi-great state of Oklahoma. Not the most glamourous state in which to vacation, but certainly one of the friendliest and the one where my best friend resides. On the flight out, the gentleman next me, Oliver, (who looked much more like a Mark for sure) and I kicked up a conversation. We were sharing our life stories and naturally my life story found its way to the adoption portion of it. He seemed perplexed and intrigued by the idea, almost as if he had never heard of anyone doing such a thing. As I explained the process, it did sound a little crazy . . . "and then you hang out with them for a week and then come home for a few months . . . ." I mean, that is going to be CRAZY! At one point I also said, "just imagine this being a 20 hour flight and you have a baby that you barely know, he has gone through 15 diapers, because of intestinal issues, and he is crying unconsolably. That could be me one of these days!!!" So, Oliver, got to sit there and listen, while some of the reality set it. Naturally, I hope to get a non-intestinal issue baby, whose defense mechanism is to sleep when they encounter stressful situations, but I'm not holding my breath. Who knows though? Maybe the plane ride will actually be one where I can catch up on my trans-Atlantic movie watching?

Little by little the reality of it it is creeping in, as our numbers creep down (or jump, as they did last week). I used to read the posts from the yahoo group as if none of it pertained to me. Even a month ago, I was pretty uninterested in packing requirements, medicines to bring, locations to hit while in Addis and now everything is starting to feel more relevant to our story. We are now sitting at number 9 on the boy list, but it is actually like number 6, because there are a few people on hold in front of us. Number 6! We literally could get a call today, or we could be sitting at 6 for awhile.

Right now I am still just trying to live and plan life in the present. This last weekend was evidence of that as I took a treasured trip to see my best friend, meet her 8 month old for the first time, eat some amazing homemade food, and run a 5K together in the pouring rain. I am taking in events like these at a heightened level, because trips like this one will, mostly likely, be very limited for at least a year after we get our little guy.

Well, friends, that's all for now. See ya around, and have a blessed day.
Elizabeth, Mari, and I getting some frozen yogurt to prepare for our race the next day.
Picking up our packet. It was quite a show! There were 25,000 runners in the Oklahoma Memorial Races.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I thought I would just return to my adoption blog this afternoon, in order to remind myself that we are still in the process of adopting. It has felt like a VERY long time since the last referral has been handed out. It has now been over a month, but it feels like way longer than that. In my last post I think I talked about how many times a day I was checking for updates. Now, I almost dread checking, because I'm pretty sure that the update page will look the same as it did yesterday and the day before, etc. . . , so being on my button pressing diet has actually not been as hard as I thought. Most days I can still rest in the trust that I know God has a plan and he already knows when our child will come home to us. I also know that even if our child stays in the orphanage much longer than we would ever ever want, it is not like we would change our mind and decide we didn't him or her, because they were there longer than we would like. There are just no guarantees with any child. They may do great after being in an orphanage for two years, while others are there for a brief time and have great difficulties. You just never know??? All I know is that God loves our child right now as he/she is AND He will be walking with us on this journey through all the ups and downs, constantly giving us just what we need, when we need it most. And right now, what I think I need the most is for the referral list to move - just kidding. Although, that would be nice:)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Getting a Grip

Last week was my Get a Grip week! The MOWA shake up seems to have coincided with a lull in referrals. I have no idea if the two are related or if we are just in the normal downswing of referrals within our agency. The point is, the result for me was this overwhelming sense that this adoption business just needs to get a move on, before any more bad news trickles in. I don't know if other waiting parents are like this, but I think that since the only thing I can do as waiting parents is wait, I feel the need to do something each day to participate in our adoption. So, for me I began to check our agencies blog page to see if there was any new news or referrals about 15 times a day. Then I would read some blogs, check the yahoo page, etc . . . . It took me awhile, but I finally realized that this ridiculous routine, not only took up precious time, but it was far far far from life giving. In fact, it was sucking the life right out of me. Come to think of it, I don't think I realized anything . . . it was God that showed me a little somethin' somthin'. Last Monday night, as I was cramming for my Bible study for Mops ministry team in the morning, a couple paragraphs in the book, may as well have been written in big, bold, red letters. It read, and I quote:

'Make Me your desired End and you will surely have that End, and you shall be satisfied, lacking nothing that is in the will of God for you.' The shameful thing is, however, that when this comes home to us, we feel a little disappointed. We have to admit it was not Himself we really wanted, but rather His gifts, and that for subtle, selfish reasons! As the hymn writer says, 'I yearned for them, not Thee.'

I was making my desired End, getting our little Ethiopian baby, instead of God. So, I'm praying about that whole business. I'm also on a refresh button diet for our agencies update blog. I can only check once (or maybe twice) a day. I'm still hoping for some movement this week, but hopefully with my priorities a little more in line I can live into the freedom that I have when I don't feel like my emotions are so controlled by the agency blog.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Break Day

Yesterday Dave took the day off and we had our Spring Break Vacation all in one day and it couldn't have been better. It started off with a trail run that starts about a 1/2 miles from our house. Then we loaded up and headed to Chik-Fil-A for a free breakfast to negate the run. Then we headed to our big vacation destination - Cave of the Winds. I hadn't been there since about 5th grade and it was even better than I remembered. It was fun to hear Spencer say "Wow" and "Cool" at every turn with such wonder!

Then, when we returned home, our I171H form was in the mail!!!!!! That is the next step in our adoption and a super important piece of paper, which will now need to be notarized, certified by the Secretary of State and sent to Washington. It means that our dossier will be complete and we will be able to accept a referral when the time comes. When I emailed about receiving this document, my coordinator also told us that we are now at #12 on the infant boy list. I don't know if I missed one along the way, or they just haven't posted it yet, but we are one closer (remember that #11 got a referral a few weeks ago).

Speaking of adoption stuff, for all of the panic and craziness the last two weeks, there has been little new information about the new process. From what I have read (which everything is a little different) it seems like they are really trying to complete the cases that are in process now, to relieve the backlog in the courts. When they have pushed through all of those, MOWA will not be completing the same number of letters as they had been previously. However, it sounds like they are not going to set a number to process per day, but just do as many per day as they can, while still maintaining the integrity of the adoption process in ET. So, that is GREAT news. It still means a slowdown, but not a stop. Also, from what I have read, it sounds like the ET government desires that adoptions remain open. So, for now, we are continuing to wait and have a lot of hope that we will be bringing home a baby (preferably a 1-2 year old) in 2011.

Here are a couple pictures from Spring Break Week. A hike in Cheyenne Canyon
Spence and Leah's first time to meet their 2nd cousin.
Cave of the Winds

The Trail in our neighborhood that we get to enjoy, now that we've started running.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Should we celebrate?

Usually after each time we move a spot on the list, I am soooo excited and I get in a mood where nothing can get me down. In light of the instability of Ethiopia's adoption program, I feel like there are some reigns holding me back from my usual excitement. I am still thrilled, but I can feel that I am not allowing myself to get all crazy about it. I am having a hard time trying to figure out where I should sit during these waiting months. Last Friday, I just let myself be sad for an afternoon - feeling the impact of the uncertainty with ET adoptions. But I knew I didn't want to stay there. When I feel bummed and even preoccupied with all of this, I do continue to go back to what I wrote in my last post. I can't always make myself feel or not feel a certain way, but I can know truths about our situation. My God antenna is high right now. So much of what I hear in church or even on facebook, of all places, feels like it applies to me and our adoption. For instance, someone wrote on facebook a quote that I am still thinking about by William Barclay:

"When we pray, we must always remember three things. We must remember THE LOVE OF GOD, which ever seeks and desires only what is best for us. We must remember THE WISDOM OF GOD, which alone knows what is best for us. We must remember THE POWER OF GOD, which alone can bring to pass that which is best for us. He who prays with a perfect belief and trust in the love, the wisdom and the power of God will find God's peace." AMEN!

It's hard to pray, Lord, give me what is best, because all I want to pray is please give me this cutie little baby that I am picturing in my mind.

Anyway, some good news that hasn't been 100% substantiated, but really close, is that MOWA is deciding to process 20 letters per day instead of the initial cutback number of 5. That is a big difference. If that is the case, then things will slow down, but that is totally fine. It's like when you go shopping and come home and tell your husband that you spent $300, so that when you tell him that you actually only spent $70 it doesn't seem like that big of a deal. Maybe MOWA is just using some psychology here?

If you think of it, keep praying for the orphan and adoption situation in Ethiopia. Thanks to all who read this, it means a lot.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Our First Potential Roadblock

It is no secret that the adoption process, whether international or domestic, can come with some serious roadblocks and we just may have encountered one that could seriously impact our adoption. Probably many of you who read this blog are in the process of adopting, so you already know what I am talking about. For those of you who may not know, today begins a giant cutback in the number of letters this governing body that is involved in Ethiopian adoptions will process. To make a long story short, they typically process 40 adoptions per day and now they are cutting back to 5 per day. At first, I thought, "this is bad, but it just means that we'll have to wait a little longer," but now that I am starting to understand the ramifications, I'm thinking that this could be devastating. It may mean that you get matched with a child and then have to wait a year or two before you actually get to bring them home. How would we do that? Part of me is in disbelief about it. I keep thinking that surely this is so ridiculous and so harmful for the children that nobody could actually let this happen. Adoptions simply can't work that way and the program will fail. Parents can't adopt a child that they can't take home. It's not adoption. Naturally, my mind goes to all the what if's. What will we do if this is actually the case? Would we still adopt? Will the program close it's doors?

If you have read this blog from the beginning, you know that I titled it "writing in pencil," because I knew that this adoption could take some serious twists and turns and that we would be holding our plans loosely. Easier said than done at this point. The past few weeks I have been more excited than ever about our adoption, because it seemed like this is really going to happen and we are actually getting close! Even earlier this week we have some dear family friends that emailed us from Kenya, offering to financially support our adoption. That email ramped me up even more, because I saw it as a reminder that God was still walking with us on our journey. So yesterday, with wind completely out my sails, I was stuck in the water, floating in the middle of the lake, asking God to whisper something . . . hoping that this whisper would fill my sails at least a little bit. I went back to the verses in Psalms that led us from fear of adopting, to making the call. It was a verse written specifically for me, in that moment. A verse that answered, so specifically, prayers that friends offered the night before.

It was Psalms 84:5-7. Blessed are those whose strength is in the you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca (evidently a difficult place to be), they make it a place of springs, the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.

There is no doubt in my mind that God enters into adoptions in such a tangible way and there is no doubt in my mind that it was truly a calling from Him that prompted our pilgrimage, so to speak. I also knew that it didn't mean it would be an easy road, but that we will go from "strength to strength" until our journey is complete. As God was whispering comfort from our adoption verses, he began to speak. The verses preceding our adoption verses, say, in effect, our souls ache for the house of God, emphasizing the sacredness and importance of home. Maybe I am reaching here, but it says, "even the sparrow has found and home, and the swallow a nest for herself." God values the home and desires us to not only have a home in heaven, but a home here on earth that prepares us for His great big house. He cares that these orphans have homes. He just does and I have to trust that he will bring one or more into this house, so that they can have a home.

Maybe all of this will just be a little speed bump and not a roadblock after all, but either way, I'll be praying that He has the perfect child for us, in the perfect time.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Number 14

I'll be keeping this one short. We moved AGAIN on Tuesday. We are now #14 for a boy, but with a few in front of us on hold for particular reasons, we are more like #10, for the time being. Now that we are getting closer, it is actually making it harder to wait, but I'm trying to keep it under control - remembering that I'm not in control. Dave thinks that we'll get a referral on March 23rd. I think that is very optimistic, especially for a pessimist. I on the other hand now predict that it will be around July that we get a referral. Neither of us have any clue though. Well, have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Could 15 be the new 2?

We moved again this Wednesday, on the boy list! Number 15, baby! On Wednesday morning, I was thinking that it would probably be about this time next year that we will be bringing home a baby. But now I have no clue! It was the ELEVENTH family on the list that got the referral. Here's the situation. There a some families on hold for one reason or another (pregnancy, lost job, that sort of thing) and then there are some families that would prefer a child that is 0-12 months old. So, the referral made it's way all the way to number 11 before finding a family that felt like a 1 1/2 year old would fit well into their family right now. That changes everything! I know that there is at least one other family ahead of us that would definitely accept a referral for a baby over the age of one, so that means that we could the second family in line for a 12-24 month old boy. On the other hand, the hold families may return to active status and we may wait for 15 other families to accept referrals for infant boys, before it is our turn. All of the sudden, though, it felt like, we could get a referral any day now. WOW!!!!!! We might have to move that garage sale date up a little. One thing on my "to do list" this weekend, is to give my agency a special ring tone for when we get the call. Not that I think it will be happening any time real soon, but I'm sure that the eleventh family on the list was not even expecting that call! I've gotta tell you, that it is exciting and scary and everything in between to think that our child may be alive somewhere in Ethiopia at this very moment. WOW!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Garage Sale Time


We moved again! Yeah! This part of the whole adoption process is actually kinda fun. Every time your numbers move, you get to have a little mini celebration. It's feels like when I was pregnant and I would count down each week, but this time I'm not growing larger each week, I sleep through the night, I can paint my own toenails, and I don't feel nauseated. I know that day will come when it will become excruciatingly difficult. I can't even imagine how hard it will be after we see a picture of our child and then have to wait months to get him. A year ago at this time, it would only take a matter of weeks between getting a picture and bringing home your child, but now it is a matter of months. From what it sounds like, according to our agency and an agency that our friends are using, each child is now required to have more paperwork. Things like birth certificates, which are not at all standard in ET, death certificates for parents, which is really not standard, and a bunch of other paperwork. The problem is, is that "the other paperwork" is different for each case. In one case they may require 8 certain pieces of paper and then the next case may require 10 different pieces of paper. It seems weird to think that there is no due process or no list of paperwork that applies to each adoption, but that's just the way it is there. Agencies are trying to gather the correct papers before going to court, but it sounds like a real moving target. I feel bad for the agencies, because I know they are trying really hard to get it all right and when they don't, they get a lot of fingers pointing at them. I can only imagine that they celebrate with successful adoptions and their hearts hurt when things go wrong. You can all remind me of this if my adoption doesn't go smoothly with paperwork and court and I feel tempted to throw our agency under the bus. I'm sure I'll be there one of these days.

So, speaking of being there one of these days, we will be THERE, in Ethiopia, one of these days. I'm hopeful, that we will get matched sometime before the courts close in September and that we travel sometime before the end of the year. Since, we will now have to travel twice, we are talking $8,000 to $12,000 for airline tickets, depending on what time of year we go. So far, we have saved enough for our snacks in the airport and taxi fares, so we have a ways to go. With it feeling like we are getting a little closer, we are thinking of ways to raise some more money. Our very generous friends have offered their house to hold a garage sale on the Old North End garage sale day, where people come out by the hoards. However, we don't have that much to sell, yet. That is where you come in. If you were planning on bringing some old furniture or garage sale material to the Goodwill over the course of the next few months, then we would love to take it off your hands and try to sell it at the garage sale on the 2nd Sat. of June. Well, this is plenty long, so I'll wrap it up. Have a good one!

P.S. - the picture is of a platter of Ethiopian food from our local Ethiopian restaurant. YUM