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

Friday, December 14, 2012

Maci, Hope, and Holding our Kids So Tightly Tonight

Today, I just can't seem to get a grip on my tears. I am probably in good company.  There have been 20 children and 7 adults killed by a gunmen and again our world feels so unsafe, so unprotected, so out of control, so wrong.  I turn off the TV and throw on a little Christmas music, after being instructed by the Today Show psychologist to not watch the media with kids around, but I continue to waver between tears and pulling it together.  I think of bringing Maci here to America, where she is supposed to have a safe, middle American life with clean water, nutritious food, lots of love, but it all of the sudden feels so glaringly apparent that no matter where she lives in this world, there is really no "safe" place.  Not for her, not for Spence and Leah, and not for me or my husband.

And it brings me back to the one and only hope.  There is only one hope in this world, and that is in Jesus Christ.  This world is beyond broken and our hope can not be put in this world.  Not in America, not in healthy food, not in a quiet suburb, not in a stable job, but only in Jesus.  I feel so relieved to know Him and believe in Him, because I still have hope.  Not only in this life, but mostly the life to come.  I feel like this is the freedom that I have in Christ: while my heart is broken for the events of today, and for friends who have kids with cancer, for Negusu still in Ethiopia, and for all the hard stuff that we all go through, I know there is hope for the future.  

My awareness to appreciate the little things that my kids do feels heightened.  I've spent some of the day, going back and reading some of the the funny things they have said in the recent past, as a desperate attempt to keep their preciousness close to me.

Even right at this moment, Leah is pretending to be a sick patient and Maci is taking sweet care of her and kissing her hand and wrapping her up in blankets.  Mark my words, Maci will be a nurse or a doctor.  She is so concerned for the hurting and takes such gentle care of every doll, animal, and sibling, when they are hurting.

Maci is not only a care giver, but a comedian.  Sometimes her humor is intentional, and sometimes it is not.

-Her most famous quote is, "I'm going to wear my Maci-tard," which was said right after Leah said that she was going to wear her "Leah-tard." That's just pure preciousness.  Even last week, before ballet, I told her to put on her leotard and she said, "No, I'm Maci, not Leah."

-She always says, "Chuck-Fil-A" instead of Chick-Fil-A.

-She sings,"Rudolph with your nose so HOT, won't you guide my sleigh tonight."

-She treats the praise music at church like Dance Revolution. We could use a little more color in our Presbyterian rows, if you ask me.  She belts out those praise songs, whether she knows the words or not.  I love it!

-She sings, "Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin egged a leg."

-She always curls one side of her mouth, just to get a laugh.

-She knows everybody's name that she has ever come across.  When I pick her up from her class, she'll say, me and Rachel (the teacher) just sang together.  And she says hi to kids all over the church who she met in class, but I have to idea who they are.  It cracks me up.

-She has a laughable (and impressive) vocabulary, because she learned English so fast.  About 5 months after she was home, I saw the dentist and he put on those special looking dentist glasses and she goes,  "He has two binoculars on his lenses."  I mean really???  That is just ridiculous.

She is truly amazing to me.  How does a child who has lost so much, have so much to give?  We feel beyond lucky to be her family.

I know we will all be hugging our children a little tighter tonight, we will be missing babies that for one reason or another are not in our lives, we will be reluctant to send them to school on Monday, we will appreciate their little moments a little more, we will be giving a little more grace to the not so special moments they inevitably have, we will be praying for the families in CT, we will be putting our hope in the only sure thing that we can have hope in, Jesus Christ.  Thank you Jesus for coming to this earth to give us hope.

Psalms 62:5-8
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; hi is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Those words were written so long ago, but feel like maybe they were written for a heartbreaking and confusing day like today.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Sometimes I feel a little guilty that we have this exceptional little girl from Ethiopia home and in our arms, but this blog continues to surround Goosey.  It may look bad from the outside, but honestly, I'm so thankful that I don't have the need to write about Maci in a way that is therapeutic.  It was a rough start, I'll admit, but she continues to fit into our family like the little mittens that she likes to wear around the house.  We still have our ups and downs and our rough weeks and great weeks, but, if I'm not mistaken, I'm pretty sure she is doing well (and she still has a disarming smile that covers over a multitude of sins).

So, on to Negusu.  If you read my last post, then you know that our pursuit of Negusu has drawn to a close. Most families that were stuck with us have now either learned that they have passed through SMOWA or they will not be bringing their child home.  I'm so unbelievably happy for all the families who have finally gotten that ridiculous signature that took a year and a half too long.  However, it has also made me sad for Negusu that he will be growing up without a mom or dad.  Last week, Maci was sick for the first time since she has been home.  She was definitely not herself.  Sometimes that was a good thing, as the sheer volume in our house dropped a few levels, but most of the time is was so sad.  She would just crawl up in my lap and fall asleep or just want to snuggle.  Those moments always reminded me that when Negusu gets sick, he doesn't have a mommy's lap to crawl into.  Awwwww Negusu-I really do miss holding you.  

Anyway, since the close of Negusu, a couple things have transpired.  First of all, Dave got a tattoo of Negusu's name in Amharic.  Second,  we have been able to sponsor the little guy.  Another family had been sponsoring him, but they were so gracious in allowing us to take him on as our child.  I love that we still get to be a part of his life.  This will provide food, clothing, education, medical attention if needed and the opportunity to hear about Jesus.  In fact, a mission trip is already scheduled to go over there in April.  Dave may even get to go.  We hope that at least one of us will get to see him about every other year.  We have already sent over our first set of letters and pictures, which is so exciting.

There are so many other kids that still need sponsorship in Awassa.  Not all of them are at his orphanage.  Some of them are older kids that live with a relative, but have great needs.  How amazing would it be to have friends that sponsor kids in Awassa and then we could all go over and visit our sponsored kids at the same time???  Forget Disney - the car ride from Addis to Awassa is the most thrilling, heart pounding ride that lasts a good 4 and half hours longer than any heart racing ride at an amusement park. Below is a link to kids who still need FIG's (Families in the Gap):

If there is a child that catches your attention, then let me know, or you can facebook Charisa Knight.

If this post looks totally blah, because there are no pictures, just click on that link above and there are lots of sweet pictures of kids needing families to help support them.  I am also, determined to write a post about only Maci and I already know what pictures I'm going to include. I have a picture of her at the zoo about 10 days after we got home and one from last week.  They look like two totally different kids.  I can't wait to post those pics.  I'll have them up within 300 days, but hopefully sooner:)

Monday, October 22, 2012

He Gives and Takes Away - The End of the Negusu Story

I didn't see this coming.  I had always kinda pictured us struggling through this adoption journey, but in the end, we'd be driving a giant SUV up the road with Spencer, Leah, Maci and Goose.

For those of you who I haven't daily dragged with me onto our roller coaster, the past few weeks have been a ride in and of itself.  People have passed through the southern region, others who should have, didn't and to top it off, a group of us, "stuck" parents, received a letter from the Department of State that said in no uncertain terms that, "the Aldridge family and the _____ family cases have cleared the SNNPR."  Initially, I thought it was a mistake, but upon further investigation, there was actually reason to believe that it perhaps was not a mistake.  Last Tuesday, all of the sudden, our decision to bring Negusu home or not was not so hypothetical anymore.  And when push came to shove, I just couldn't imagine NOT bringing him home and Dave was off the charts.  Recently, he has been saying things like, "I'll fly to Ethiopia right now if I have to," and "I'll get a 2nd job to pay for extra help for you."  Dave was bound and determined to bring Negusu home and I was grasping at his coat tails, getting ready to commit.  This is about as close as we have come to being on the same page about bringing him home for such a long time. Many of you know that I have said that, "I think we'll know the answer to the Negusu story when Dave and I are truly on the same page," and I felt like we were close.

Backing up a couple of days.  A week ago Friday, I went to bed and was saying my obligatory night time prayer . . . "Dear Jesus, thank you for today, thank you for my kids, please hold Negusu. . . ." CONTENTMENT!  Whoa!  That was out of nowhere.  I've mentioned before that I don't think that I hear much from God, but this was one of those times that I've heard others talk about.  It was practically an audible voice.  Naturally, I still question if this was from God, but I'm about as pretty positive that I can be, if one can be "pretty positive."

I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about what life will be like when we bring Negusu home OR if he doesn't come home, how we can make up for the loss of Negusu and maybe do foster care or start another adoption or have another baby or something or whatever.  Now, that I have some emotional energy to blow, I've been blowing it on thinking about the next change in our family, rather than on the amazing family that is under this roof right now.

After God whispered "contentment," into my ear, I felt really chipper about this new idea of finding contentment within my already family and tucking Negusu and other ideas away again.  Of course, four days later, is when I was checking email every two seconds to find out if our case was indeed signed.  On Wednesday morning, at about 10:00am, we heard back from Ethiopia.  Goosey's case was NOT signed.  I called Dave and he basically said, "OK," but a couple hours later, he called back and said he wanted to talk about what had just happened. I told him that I wasn't sure I could be content with our family with Negusu occupying so much of my brain all the time.  That is when I told him, in a very timid, room for interpretation way, "I think I'm done."  He shockingly said, "Me too."  And that is when the sobs began.  I knew at that moment, that it was the end.  Our ride was over.  We were on the same page at last.  And later that night, in the same room where we have cried a million times over Negusu, prayed a trillion prayers for him, we prayed and cried and sobbed and prayed and handed our portion of Goosey back into into the loving arms of God.

God had spoken.  I don't know if I'll ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, know why God brought us to love Negusu so deeply, why He entrusted us to pray for him for 500 days, and then closed the door with few answers, but I guess  . . .  what kind of God would he be, if we knew more than Him?  We believe that God loves Negusu, more than we ever, ever, ever, ever could.  We know we have a broken heart and somehow that is comforting.

At first glance, it seems as if there is not much to be thankful for in this, but to me, there is a ton.  First and foremost, we got to hold, love, play, sneak in some physical therapy, kiss,  feed, and laugh with Negusu.  What an amazing gift that we even got to meet him.  I'm thankful for the timing of this decision, the clarity, the peace that has come with it, and for MACI.  She is a absolute wonder.

Would I ever want to go through all of this again - NEVER.  Would I trade this journey for anything - NEVER.  I am different and my relationship with Jesus could never be where it is today, without this journey and I believe that God has something in store for Negusu.  In his short little life, God has heard Negusu's name spoken and lifted up countless times by us and by so many of you.  Negusu is your child, Lord Jesus, and although he is weak, You are strong.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Our Beautiful Little Stinker

Isn't this girl a true beauty?  It's a good thing, because as cute as she is, she can be a little stinker!

I can't believe it has been so long since I have written.  There are just not many themes to my thoughts lately, so anything I write is more likely to be a ramble or a simple account of life, rather than anything anyone would want to read, so I'll likely keep it short and choppy.

Maci is doing well by most accounts.  Two weeks ago, I was on the cusp of writing a blog titled, "She is Mine and I am Hers." It was going to be beautiful and you would have definitely needed a tissue or two.  It was going to highlight how close I felt to her and how I was surprised at how deeply I loved this child in a short amount of time.  I was arranging the sentences in my head, on my runs, as I cooked (just kidding-I don't cook)  etc. . . Then the past two weeks happened and she has tried my patience to the moon and back.  Since Maci and I have taken a little step back in our relationship, I couldn't in clean conscience write my originally dreamed up post.  I am hoping our little detour off the attachment path is just that - a little detour.  It has made me glad that I decided to keep her out of preschool this semester, to give us a little alone time, at least one morning a week.  I have needed it.  When she is not competing for attention with her siblings, she is so endearing, so funny, so amazing, so everything great.  I still think it is that familiar cycle of getting so close that she feels uncomfortable, so she begins to test and I can assure you, if she is testing me, I have not passed.  I thank God for his grace, because I have needed a lot of it lately.

The last time I wrote, it was about our Goosing idea.  We Goosed our first victims about a month ago and it was super fun.  The process of adoption is just plain brutal sometimes, so hopefully, we (Goosey included) were able to encourage this family a little bit.  We Goosed some people that were sitting with their referral, yet with some uncertainty looming.  That is just the pits!

Speaking of Goosey.  The proverbial carrot has been hung out yet again.  I won't go into all the details, but there could be some movement on the horizon.  Of course, we've all heard that before about eight hundred times, so we aren't FREAKING OUT yet.  OK, maybe I have done a little freaking out, but Dave has stayed relatively calm, to nobody's surprise.  For a couple of days, I let myself try on the cloth of thinking about this potentially huge decision we'll have to make and it wasn't pretty folks.  However, this past week, I have now been reassured by the Southern MOWA that they are still playing the "next week" game, so I have decided to pack up those clothes for when SMOWA actually puts their pen to the paper and writes their two little initials on his paperwork.

Alrighty - there we have it - short and choppy, like I promised.  I think having three kids takes all the flow out of my writing.  Maybe if we got back to an even number, like 4, then my thoughts would reorganize more liltingly . . . . or, more likely, I would lose all ability to even speak the English language on any comprehensible level.   On that note, goodnight all.

Friday, August 10, 2012

In Honor of "The Goose"

One might think that the reason I have not written lately is because I have three small ones at home 24/7, 7 days a week, but I really think it has more to do with the fact the the Olympics have been in full swing for the past couple of week.  By the next summer Olympics, we will have a DVR!  Stuff like that probably doesn't belong on an adoption blog, but there was great disappointment when Gabby Douglas was bouncing along on her first tumbling pass and the VCR ran out of tape!

Anywho . . . . there are much more pressing matters in life.  I wish that running out of tape on our vintage VCR was our biggest problem, but we still have this little guy, Negusu, sitting in a little orphanage in Ethiopia.  I have finally used his name and that is not a mistake.  Our hope of getting him is all but extinguished.  The whole situation is heartbreaking, but right now, it just feels  . . .  well . . . weird.  Not a very descriptive word for such a serious topic, but there is no word for it.  

Our favorite picture of "Goosey" (tear, tear)
Like I said in a previous post, another family has taken on the challenge of getting care for Negusu and all his little orphanage buddies at Ajuuja.  It is through an amazing organization called Project Hope.  People are able to sponsor kids at Ajuuja for $30/month, or they can give one time donations to help with special items.  For instance, today they are requesting 6 more cribs for 6 more babies at this already full orphanage.   

It seems like we should be so excited to help and we are, but there is just some weirdness to it all.  First of all, we can't sponsor Negusu, because if the completely unexpected should happen and those in charge of his fate should actually sign his paperwork and we should feel like we are in a place to bring him home, then sponsorship could affect that process.  We could sponsor another child at the orphanage, but it feels odd to sponsor the baby next to Negusu for some reason.  Not much has settled peacefully in my mind about this whole situation and it probably won't until we have a FINAL answer on The Goose. What we do feel settled about, is trying to help find sponsors for the remainder of the kids that don't have FIGS (Families in the Gap) and remaining open to getting more involved once we get that period on the sentence that we feel pretty sure is coming.  If you are interested in donating to Negusu's orphanage or sponsoring one of his buddies, here is the link with more information:

We also are excited about doing our own little tiny thing to HONOR NEGUSU!  We are going to start Goosing people, which will be our way or encouraging people we come across who have have had long, discouraging adoption stories.  We are so excited about this.  It seems like every time we were past the point of despair with Negusu, somebody would anonymously send us a check, an unexpected note, or something that was just perfect for the moment.  So, Dave and I have already started patrolling blogs to search for families that need a little encouragement in their adoption journey.  We can't wait to Goose our first Goose-ee.  I want to take this moment to thank any and all of you who have encouraged us from start to finish, with notes, financial assistance, meals when we got home, gift certificates, prayer and comments on our blog and facebook statuses.  All of those things have led us to this new endeavor to encourage others who have had a rocky path to their little one.  

BTW - If any of you excel at cartoon drawings, we'd love to get a little logo for our "You've Been Goosed" campaign.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Healing Waters of Valley Swim Club

Two weeks after bringing Maci home, I called the local swim club, of which we had been on the waiting list since last year, and anxiously asked if we were going to make the cut this year.  The reply was not what I was hoping for.  We were 127th on the list and they told me there was not much of a chance that we would be doing much dipping in their pool this summer.  I hung up the phone a little teary, because I knew what that meant . . .  the pool money was going to now be used for some serious therapy. . . .for me!   Somehow, three weeks later, we got the call that our name was up.  Hallelujah!!!!!  I'm pretty sure that nobody else there, has the same deep appreciation that I do for this rented membership and it shows - we are there almost every day.  It's almost embarrassing how much we are there.  

Personally, I would add a chapter to the popular adoption attachment books, called "The Importance of Pool Memberships," because I have no doubt that it has helped Maci bond to all of us and visa versa.  It is a place where she has to trust us when she is in the big pool.  It is a place where she has a lot of needs that have to be met by me, like putting on sunscreen, getting floaties on, and peeling off and on wet bathing suits three hundred times a day to go potty.  (Sometimes, I wish she would just go in the pool, but I'm pretty sure the nearby swimmers wouldn't appreciate that). And it is a place where when she gets out of the water, she wants to be wrapped in a fluffy towel and snuggled.  All of these things have been so good for her bonding to us.  But I think what has helped the most with me bonding to her is just watching joy ooze out of her when she is playing at the pool.  Not every day has gone swimmingly (no pun intended) and more than once I have had to pick my crying kids up like footballs and escort them to the car, but for the most part, the pool is a happy, smiley place.

Maci was going off the diving board for the first time last night, and seriously . . . every - single - time - everyone in the deep end just laughed.  Her eyes would grow huge, her cheeks would be puffed, not to mention her hair would look a little like Michael Jacksons on the album cover BAD, with a few little curls hanging down in front, and her excitement was visible.  She made movements like she was going to sky off of the diving board and into the water, but she would really only go up about a quarter of an inch and then drop onto her "keeto" (the only Amharic word she still uses) into the water.  Then she would wiggle underwater for as long as possible as if she was swimming and then finally come up for air with the biggest grin on her face.  Who wouldn't fall deeply in love with a child so full of joy for the simple things in life, like jumping off the diving board?  I know we are!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Goosey - Part II

What is the worst ending to a movie that you can think of?  It doesn't take me long to think of mine, and thus begins the story.

After wrapping up a semester of teaching 7th grade Geography, another teacher suggested we go and watch the much anticipated release of "Lord of the Rings."  I had never read the books or been interested in the story line, but I was very interested in sitting in a movie theater and eating Hot Tamales.  Since I had no knowledge of the books or even the fact that it was a trilogy, I was quite disgruntled at the ending.  I think I have a touch of ADD, so as the movie went on and on and on, I became anxious for it to wrap up.   However, if you remember correctly, it wrapped up with Gandolph falling into oblivion.   What in the world?  I just sat through a 4 and half hour long movie and it was going to just end with the good wizard dying and everything else unresolved?  What a disappointment.  My friend, Carol, was quick to assuage my irritation of it all and promise that Gandolph would reappear and the story would continue  to develop into deep, meaningful twists and turns.  

Well, I feel like I kinda need a Carol to tell me that right now with our "Goose" situation.  I have a hard time holding out any more hope that the southern region will ever let these kids through.  I feel like the end of this story is so anti-climactic.  In my little dream world, I thought we'd end up bringing home two Ethiopian kids and after a hard year we would look at our little family and say, "I can't imagine life without each and every child in this family."  I just didn't expect that the end of our Goose story would be life Gandolph . . .  just kinda falling into oblivion.  No decisions really made, no progress, no "no's," . . .  just sorta . . . .  nothing.  

It just wouldn't do, for the the story to end like this, with just. . . . .nothing.  So, I am writing to share a little bit about a possible part two of the story. There is a (saintly) couple that received a referral for their baby boy, literally days, before us.  He was from the same region and even the same orphanage as Goosey, but this little cutie made it out, before the iron doors of the south closed.  Even though their little guy made it out, all the Ajuuja babies have remained heavy on the hearts of this couple.  They are spearheading an effort to start a sort of sponsorship program for the Ajuuja orphans.  This has been a little tricky up to this point, because if we sponsored Goosey, then somehow we wouldn't be able to adopt him.  We didn't want to mess up any chance that he had to get adopted by us or by someone else, so we never really pushed the issue.  Now that we are pretty certain that we won't be bringing Goosey home, we feel pretty confident that this is the path we should take.  At this point, we don't totally know the details of how it is all going to work, but this other couple is on it like white on rice.  It still feels a bit like a consolation prize, but my excitement for the next movie in the trilogy is growing.  Maybe Goosey will get to go to school?  Maybe he'll get some nutritious food?  Maybe he'll learn about Jesus?  Maybe we'll get to see him every couple of years?  Maybe he'll feel just a little bit like he has a mom and dad and some siblings?   Maybe all the kids in the orphanage will get to enjoy the same benefits?  

Like I said, I don't know how this is all going to play out, but it is in the works.  The brainstorming sessions are in full gear, the scripts are being written, the directors are thinking through the scenes, and film crews are getting antsy to yell the word, "ACTION!"  Perhaps some of you may be the actors in "Goosey - Part II."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

One Book, Two Storylines

As usual, there are two story lines in our adoption book.  One has always had forward motion and there is always something new. The other has an element of suspense, but the story line pretty much reads, "same as yesterday-no new news."  But one day, something will happen.  

Maci's story is so amazing.  Maybe your surprised to hear that after reading about our first 6 weeks home with her.  Those were some "special" times and I'll just leave it at that.  It's weird to talk about those first six weeks as if they were so long ago, but they feel a lifetime ago.  I guess that leaves us with only three weeks of life on the upswing, but it's a great ride.  Maci continually impresses me with each little bit of herself that she is slowly revealing.  There is so so so so much to love about her.  How fortunate we are to see this child soak in the newness of every experience with such eagerness.  I am totally that parent that thinks that my child is gifted and talented, even though she can't even go to the bathroom by herself.  But I tell ya - you would be shocked at how well she speaks English.  If you need your socks knocked off, then come bend your ear and listen to her cute little accent, saying little phrases like, "I'll be back back," meaning, "I'll be right back."  It's so fun.  Still hard-but so worth it. 

Our two stories have stayed pretty separate, for which I am grateful.  I guess I am talking emotionally.  There was awhile when we first got Meraf's referral that I wasn't sure I would ever feel the same intensity of love for her as I did for Goosey.  Then when we brought her home (don't gasp too hard at this) there was some time that I was so sad that we didn't bring home a baby and instead we got a very difficult toddler.  I thought I might resent her, especially since it seemed like bringing home N would now be an impossibility, with our lives so upside down.  That's all out the window now.  We actually do feel like God knew the perfect fit for our family and we are still falling in love with Maci.  Like I said, I feel so grateful that Maci will not affect our decision to take Goosey or not, at this point.  However, there are a lot of other factors.

The last post that I wrote was that we were going to live our lives, as is and not hold back on account of Goose.  THE VERY NEXT DAY, we got word that there was a huge two day meeting, mostly focused on the agencies, social workers, orphanages and other ET officials, trying to persuade the southern MOWA to let these kids through.  Needless to say the viral chatter about the southern region opening again is at a high level.  But we continue to hear the same old thing, "tomorrow, it will get signed."   We are still very much up in the air about what we will do if they actually do sign his paperwork. In order to stay focused on our present Maci storyline, I have to write down all the conflicting thoughts about Goosey, so that I can leave them on paper, instead of having them occupy valuable space in my finite brain.  

So, here it goes- not in order of importance.  It was just what I wrote down one day in my journal.
-He's our child
-I love N
-Why did we go through all of this, just to give him up?
-I am feeling great about our family with Maci, Spence, and Leah
-I don't think I can handle a special needs baby
-I don't want to give up teaching piano
-It would be great to have 2 boys, 2 girls.
-It would be great for Maci to have another brown babe in the family.
-We'd have to buy a new car.
-We'd have to come up with another $20,000
-God wants us to care for orphans.
-God will provide money, strength, and energy.
-The kids all want N to come home and literally pray for it daily.
-What if N is special needs forever?
-What if bringing him home would dramatically change our life?
-What if Dave loses his job in the hospital turnover?
-God may have another family for N.
-Could I ever live with myself if we gave him up?
-Would we bring him home and think that we couldn't imagine life without him?  
-Would it be a better act of love to take him or to allow another family to take him?
-What does God want us to do?
-Are we free to make a decision and God will still pour out grace either way or does He have an answer for us?
-N's smile-could I live without that?
-What could we do to honor N if we don't get him or we don't take him?
-Will the Holy Spirit speak to us?
-Why would God change his mind about us getting N?
-Would I lose out on really knowing the three kids that are here, if we brought N home.

Now, I'm not saying I'm proud of all these thoughts, but there they are.  They are pretty "me" focused, aren't they?  Right now, we are not expending great energy on our final answer, because what would be the point?  We don't know if we'll ever be making that decision.  Our overall prayer, is if they ever sign his paperwork, that God will strip away all the white noise and be very clear with us, and that he'll give us peace about our decision.  For now, we'll keep lovin' on the three we have.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Bitter in Bittersweet

Now for the bitter . . .  "The Goose."  We are just a few days shy of our one year anniversary of our referral for little baby N.  He turned one a month ago and has now spent all but 10 days of his little life, laying in one room, in one crib and in the arms of multiple caregivers.  He has nobody to call "mommy."  He has nobody to call him "son."  He has nobody of his very own.  The stories from the region where he lives are, as someone else with a child stuck there put it this week, "incomprehensible."  What the people in charge of these precious little lives are doing is so unjust and so incomprehensible that even if I tried to share some of the personal stories, it would just sound trite.  There is no other word for all of the families and children in our situation, other than heart breaking and even those words don't hold a candle to the real emotions behind it all.  

Every day I wonder what we would do if N cleared???  If that did happen, I would be calling young and old, short and tall, those of all faiths and asking for prayer.  I would need an angel to come down from the heavens (with a large check in hand, no less) and tell us that we should and are capable of bringing N home.  I kinda feel like Maci is doing so amazingly well, yet I still feel like bomb has gone off in our house and many days, it still feels like survival is the name of the game.  I'm just not sure we, as a family, could make it through another toss up, without some time to gather our feet underneath us.

I have found it easy to tell people that I'm just not sure we could move forward with Goosey at this point, but if I even give myself over 60 seconds to think about it, or if I try to take any pictures down, the tears pour out.  Big-Huge-Ethiopian tears (those kids have some serious tear ducts, btw).  We have decided to do a couple things, though.  We decided to keep our homestudy updated, but at the same time, we have decided to live our lives as if our family is complete.  We've spent the last two years, scrimping, saving, holding back, not taking trips, saving vacation time, and basically putting our lives on hold. . . . in preparation for a child and now it is time to start letting the line out a little and enjoy moving forward from here.

One of the many difficult parts of the whole Goose business, is wondering where God is, in his story.  I mean, if our story just started with Maci, then we would be sitting in our house, saying things like, "The wait was hard, but God is good," and "she is so amazing and God knew that she belongs in our family."  It would be easy to give God the glory and other Christian phrases like that.  BUT - that is not where our story began.  It began with Goosey and he hasn't moved an inch since we first saw his picture and there isn't much promise that he will move anywhere in the future.  It is hard to say, "God is good," under these circumstances.  It is hard to believe anything about God under these circumstances.  Even if I feel like our family is complete, what about Goose?  He has no family.  What will happen to him?  The last family that went over a couple months ago, still said that he doesn't use his legs.  If he had come home when he should have, he would most likely be a thriving little one year old right now, but his chances at a "normal" life seem to be diminishing.  So, is God good?  What it came down to for me, was, "did he die and come back to life or not?"  It's the crux of the Christian faith.  If I believe that is true, then I believe the rest is true.  If I don't believe that He rose again, then I don't believe the rest.  It's all or nothing and I just can't help it . . . I believe that Jesus died and rose again and that He is who He says He is.

I have stopped trying to figure out why our story went as it has or why there ever had to be a "Goose" if we were supposed to get Maci this whole time?  I doubt that any of it will ever make sense to me, this side of heaven, but what I know is that we will continue to treasure the responsibility to pray for Goosey and we will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS love the little guy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Sweet in Bittersweet

It is a bittersweet Mother's Day.  Mostly sweet, so let's start there.  We went to Pagosa Springs to see Dave's mom and extended family for Mother's Day.  It was our first attempt at a family trip and I am officially announcing it as a victory.  It was filled with fishing, paddle boating, the Malt Shoppe, family meals, and a birthday party and not one of those events was cut short by a poorly timed temper tantrum.  Maci just seemed to know that family was surrounding her.  Therefore, it didn't take the typical hour to warm up to all the new people she met.  Of course, at our family dinner, it also helped to have a 9 week old puppy (not ours, of course) to break in the squeals of laughter.

I wasn't sure how this weekend was going to go, but I was certainly ready to get out of this house for better or for worse.  "They" say that when you adopt, your family should cocoon and stay close to home as much as possible for the first few months.  My intent was to do that.  As it turns out, if I actually did that, I think I would find myself cocooning alone at someplace with a name like "Whispering Pines Home for the Not So Stable."  As much as I love our house and neighborhood, I shudder at the thought of staying home with my 3 young kids for days at a time.  It is within these very walls, after all, that most meltdowns occur.  For that, I am thankful.  It is better for them to melt down here, then in the grocery line or on the front steps of the Department of Human Services, but I needed to catch my breath somewhere else this weekend, after what was a pretty ugly week.

There is one area where my kids are very fair and where they are really good at sharing.  They are very thoughtful about sharing tantrum time.  Isn't that sweet?  Maci likes to scream loud and often, but she keeps it short, which we appreciate.  Leah spaces hers out a little more, but she has the extenda-cry down pat and Spencer is a real saver.  He goes a couple of weeks, but then he lays a big one down, which he did this week. I still feel like I am recovering from that one.  That being said and bring it back around to the sweet part of Mother's Day.  All three kids did just play together for 45 minutes without one cause for parental intervention.  That was a present of great proportion and the sweetest gift of all.  (Although Dave's present was pretty awesome.  If you stop by, you'll have to ask to see the cookbook the was made personally for me).  Well, now that I just wrote about the sweetness of the day, I don't really want to talk about the bitter just yet, so I think I'll save the bitter (Goosey) for tomorrow.

For now, thank you MOM for believing in this journey.  Thank you for accepting Maci as your grandchild. Thank you for walking with me in all of the craziness of adoption and for reminding me of how great God's love is for not only our kids, but for me as well.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cuttin' a Rug

When I was in high school (and college and my single years) if there was an award for "Miss Goody Two Shoes," I think I would have definitely been in the running. That's why when Donny DeBruno, who had a good handle on our high school party scene, yelled out from across the parking lot, "You cuttin' a rug this weekend?" I replied a sarcastic, "Yeah . . . . . right . . . . !" First of all, why was Donny DeBruno talking to me? Second of all, I had no idea what "cutting a rug" was, so I just assumed it was something bad, if the cool kids were using that phrase . . . hence my answer. All that to say, for those of you still in your Goody Two Shoes Phase, "cutting a rug," simply means . . . dancing. We are doing a bit of a dance around here and I hesitate to say, that it is going decently well.  Actually, we have a lot of dances going on around here.

My all time favorite dancing is swing dancing.  One reason I like it so much, is that it has actual moves that you can learn. Even if you lack certain dance talent, you can learn how to execute the moves at the right time and you may appear to be able to somewhat dance.  The part of our life that feels more like a swing dance, is that we have a little bit more of a schedule back in our lives.  Or maybe I should just call it what it is - we have a nap time again, which has added some real sanity back into my life.  It wasn't easy, but this is a move that makes our family look like we kind of know what we are doing.   The first trial of nap time, came with screaming, pinching, etc. . . for about 30 minutes, but you wouldn't even believe what it looked like today!  She crawled in my lap, while I was sitting in the rocking chair, we played a little, and then she wrapped her arms around my waist, laid her head on my chest and quickly fell asleep.  (Insert tear).  It was precious.

We are also doing a little bit of regular club type dancing.  At my college, a dance was called a "function," because Baptists don't dance, you know?  I definitely feel like I am at "a function."  I feel a little uncertain of how I look on the dance floor of child raising, without specific dance steps to follow.  All of my kids feel very delicate right now and there is no question that they are.  They are all experiencing some sort of trauma, but we are working on giving them all a voice and making sure they feel connected.  If that sounds like it is straight out of a Karyn Purvis book on adoption, it probably is.  I know you are not supposed to leave the side of your child for like 2 years, but come hell or high water, I was not going to miss her conference in Denver this weekend.  So, Dave and I split up the sessions and it was certainly worth it.  Naturally, I have already found it hard to recall any of the information as tantrums arise,  but it has given us a direction to head.   It was the perfect timing for it (minus the fact that we couldn't both attend all the sessions), because before you adopt, you sit through those conferences just praying that your soon to be child won't be one of the severe cases on the clips they show, but if you wait too long, then you just have more retraining to do.

And the last dance we are doing a little less of each day, is head banging.  Phew!  There are still daily tantrums and life is far far from back to "normal," but I'm pretty sure we are making some progress.  Yesterday, as we sat in church, with Maci on Dave's lap (of course) she was just smiling and looking at us and I felt so proud of her that I could hardly contain myself.  I wanted to stand up and tell everyone to look at how precious she is.  What an amazing feeling, to be falling in love with a child that I really only met a month ago. I know as soon as I press "publish," our entire house will fall apart and the next post will be about how we are back to ground zero, but for now, I'll bask in the feeling of progress:)

I know some of you have already seen this clip, but how could I resist posting it again, in light of this blog title?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Backwards Motion

Good Golly Miss Molly! Now if all of those were four letter words, you would actually know how I am feeling. I bet there are a few of you out there, that after a cutie little video and a couple of good days, might think that things are starting to fall into place around here. Don't be deceived, my dear friends. We are now home a little over 2 weeks and today was without question, the hardest to date. There were quite a few tears from all parties, not withstanding the grown ups. So, to those whose prayers for us are beginning to wane somewhat, please don't stop now. We would be beyond grateful.

I'd be lying if I said that every day was terrible, because there have actually been a couple of doable days. However, I hesitantly (because I don't totally know what I'm doing) venture to say that those days were more about keeping the statue quo than about moving forward. As long as I am trying to make everybody happy, things are OK, but the minute I need to take a little charge, there is some weeping and knashing of teeth that can be heard across the Pike's Peak region. My theory is this. I have now had some time under my belt to observe a little more about our newest member. I've realized (with some help from another adoptive family) that there is a difference between her kind, "No, thank you" and her "NO" with a few expletives in front and in back of it. I am picking up on the subtle lip gestures that are not friendly in nature, as well as all that lies behind the good ol' Ethiopian one sided shoulder shrug. All that to say, today was the end of observation and the beginning of taking back a little control around here.

As I've mentioned before, she is pretty into Dave, so sometimes when Dave is home, it is easy to let him deal with her, instead of me. I'll do the playing, but Dave will do the dirty work. For instance, when I try to give her a bath, it is mostly just screaming and meltdowns, but when he gives her a bath, she practically falls asleep as he massages the conditioner through her curly locks. Anyway, today, was different. While Dave was in charge of the other two, I was in charge of Maci Meeraf and I can assure this move was not a hit with the dear one. She put up more of a fight than I've ever seen before and her stamina was remarkable. I am happy to announce that she is sleeping right now, however, I am not happy to announce that I'm wrung out completely and starting to question why we ever thought this was a good idea?

Right at this very moment I am terribly sad that I told Leah that I would read her a book and scratch her back before bed, but she fell asleep before I could get there. I even tried to wake her back up, so I could follow through on my promise. Out of all the things to cry about today, the thing with Leah is the one I can't stop crying about, but I suppose it may be a an accumulation of hard hours in the day doing a little catching up.

Hopefully, sometime in the nearish future, I will have a post that will have a title like, "Progress Being Made," "She Didn't Cry When I Washed Her Hands!," "Fun day in New Zealand," but for now, the days just kind of stink and I'm feeling like we are pedaling hard, but we're going backwards.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Whoa Nellie!

Meeraf at home, instead of just hanging out as a picture on our fridge!
Sunnie and Meeraf playing in Ethiopia.
The car ride from home from the airport.

I want to go back and talk about my trip, because although I NEVER want to do that again, it really was a great trip. It was so fun to take someone there who had never been to a place like Ethiopia. It was so fun to go with my best friend from high school, Sunnie. It's not even like we keep in touch all that well and it's not like the plan for her to go was years in the making. It was a 9th inning call that was made within a few weeks of traveling.

If you know me well, you know that laughing takes me a long way. Life without laughing for me, is a bit like life without water. I have to laugh. It is what makes everything OK. When we boarded the plane from Denver to Frankfurt, we were already doubled over with laughter at the Italian guy next to me who snored louder than a buzz saw before we were even in the air and that trend continued throughout the whole trip. Of course, as the trip went on, it was mixed in with crying and temper tantrums and boundary testing, etc. . . . , but the laughter kept me sane. We were also, so beyond lucky to travel with Steve and Kelly, with whom I'm sure they are still thinking, "what would those girls have done without us." On the flights home, we put Steve in charge and he took up the challenge with great resolve and a smile on his face. So, thanks Steve - we would probably still be in the Sudan if you were not there to help us out! And thanks Scott, for letting Sunnie go with me.

At this very moment, I could use a little laughter in my life. The honeymoon is officially over and this has been the hardest day so far. Before today, I kinda thought that maybe we were one of the lucky ones. Sure, she was shunning me, but she was in love with Dave and from time to time she would give me a little encouragement and let me in a little. She smiled, she played, she shared, she was funny and silly, but BOY HOWDY, today has been a rough one. Hopefully, it is a growing one, though. Earlier today she had a melt down over washing her hands, so I picked her up, which sent her into a new level of melt down, complete with hitting and biting, but I just held her tight. Maybe it was the wrong thing to do, but after a slew of angry Amharic, she relaxed and then in a completely different manner, she began to cry. Not the angry cry that she had carried on with for quite a while, but a real sad sad cry. It was like two totally different languages. One of anger and one of pain. Oh - this is hard stuff. Mostly, for her, but it takes a lot out of us, too. I can't tell you how much I am dreading Dave going back to work. If he didn't have to go, then I would feel like this is totally doable, but I'm getting a little nervous. She will let him do anything, and me do nothing. Although, she will let me do whatever after she throws a little fit. It's just that I'm not sure I can handle a little fit, every time I need to put a shoe on, brush teeth, put lotion on, give her medicine, bathe her, pick her up, feed her, etc. . . I am so grateful that many well seasoned adoptive parents have told me that it is normal that a child attaches to the dad first, due to the fact that they have never had a dad that has hurt them, only a mom and a couple of female nannies who have left painful wounds in their tiny hearts. Well, that's about all I can muster about now, so I'm signing off.

OK, so I never sent that last post, so I'll just continue for a minute now. It is now 3 days later from the time I wrote the previous stuff. The next day was GREAT! She was so smiley, would let me help her, she played, and she didn't recoil every time I went to touch her. The hope is back! Whew!

Then yesterday was another pretty hard day, but kind of what I expected. Dave went to work the whole day. Spencer had a fever, but didn't want to stay in bed, Leah is getting another cold and I think Maci Meeraf thought she gave in a little too much yesterday. Under those circumstances, I think it was impossible to have a good day. We actually had a pretty good morning, but the afternoon was a train wreck. It was mostly Spence and Leah that were acting out, but Maci Meeraf was certainly keeping her distance from me. It felt awful, because I'm supposed to be providing this safe, cozy, comfortable place for Maci, but Spence and Leah were fighting, crying and falling apart and I had no back up. I found myself giving in to all my kids, because I couldn't risk multiple melt downs by everyone. Terrible - I know! It was the worst day possible for Dave to go back to work. It feels frustrating that Dave has saved a million vacation days for this very time, but he can't even use them, due to circumstances at work. Anyway, now I am whining. I know these posts are not terribly imaginative and just kind of informative, but I just want to keep people informed, I guess?

Today - it is only 7:58 on Friday and who knows what the day will hold. Please God - let it be better than yesterday!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Little Bit of Then and a Little Bit of Now

Where to even begin . . . . . . . ?????????? What a trip. I wish you all could just read my mind, because I have no idea how to organize my thoughts and put them on paper. I'll just take it from the top, I guess.

We arrived late Saturday night and we took Sunday to just be tourists. We shopped, we saw sights, we ate at Mod Abbysinia, which is like an Ethiopian Country Dinner Playhouse. Our guide, Fekadu, from our last trip to Awassa, and his driver took us there and we had such a great night. The day was perfect and it gave us a chance to brace ourselves for what was to come.

That night, I didn't sleep for even one second, knowing that the next day, life was going to change, but I wasn't totally sure how. We headed to the care center and immediately set out to lay our eyes on Meeraf. I stepped into her room and she saw me and smiled. Already, I was making judgements about the rest of our lives together. I was thinking, "she smiled and she remembers me . . . everything is going to be great. Phew!" From this point on, I was either in survival mode, just trying to make it through the next minute, or I was making judgements on how the rest of our lives were going to go. Both were fairly exhausting ways to operate. Anyway, the initial reunion was so great and so encouraging. About a half hour in, I got news that the birth mom was going to come at 11:00. (In Ethiopian time, that means that maybe she'll come sometime that day.) So, we waited and waited and finally ended up going back to the hotel until they called us back. Late, in the afternoon, we got the call that she had arrived, so we hopped back in the Addis View van and made another crazy trip through the streets of Addis. However, about half way through the trek back, we pulled over and in stepped the birth mom. It was so obvious that it was her, because she looked just like Meeraf. AWKWARD!!!! I didn't know what to say, so I offered her a piece of gum. That seems so silly now. I was just caught so off gaurd. It's just tough to think of small talk, especially when you don't speak the same language. Gum is universal, though, isn't it?

At the care center, we had a chance to talk to each other. I was kind of hoping that she would be real teary and heart broken over being forced to give up her daughter due to unimaginable circumstances or something like that. That wasn't the case, though. She was very young and seemed rather unmoved by her decision to bring Meeraf to an orphanage. Before this meeting, I held a little bit of guilt about removing Meeraf from her country and from everything familiar to her, but that guilt fled in a hurry. The general sense that I felt after our meeting was that Meeraf was not in a good situation. After our meeting we took a few pictures and then Meeraf broke down into a puddle of tears. Heartbreaking! Man, the amount of trauma that this child went through, even in the one week I was there, is so heartbreaking, let alone all of the trauma she experienced before this week.

From that point, I bought Meeraf back to the hotel. This is where the rubber met road. I'll write more about our trip later. Right now, I'll give you a snapshot into life right now on this side of the hemisphere.

Meeraf is very hot and cold, and she definitely prefers Dave FAR about me . . . however, all things considered, I think she is doing really well. Obviously, it is painfully hard for me that she won't let me even touch her, or look at her at times. However, there are enough moments where she lets me in, that I am staying afloat for now. Like, at the park today, I thought my heart would burst. She smiled so much, giggled, played and would repeat me saying "UNNNNDERDOOOOOOOG," as I was pushing her on the swing. Holy Cow - it was beyond precious. She is beyond precious - and I think I'll go take in a little bit of her preciousness right now, if she'll let me:)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's true . . . I leave tomorrow!

Tomorrow afternoon I will be leaving Colorado Springs e
astbound to Ethiopia to bring home Maci Meeraf Aldridge. The email came in the middle of the night that our Embassy date is set for March 27th. After opening the email, there was a giant rush of adrenaline preventing my sleepy self from settling back into a soft, warm sleep. So, a few restless hours later, I have decided to try my hand at one last post before I head out.

The other night I was watching "Tangled" with my kids and there was a scene in the movie that made me feel a lot like Rapunzel. (It certainly wasn't her thick long hair making me feel like her!) Her whole life, she had seen in the distance hundreds upon thousands of lights rise into the sky on her birthday. The whole movie was about her reaching this destination and this point where she would see the lights up close. So, there she was in the boat, anticipating the launch of these thousands of lanterns. While you would expect that she would be giddy with excitement, she timidly shared that she was "terrified." She went on to say, "I've been looking out a window for 18 years, dreaming about what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it's not everything I dreamed it would be?" Well, folks - that is about how I feel . . . terrified, but I think (maybe not initially) it will all be breathtakingly beautiful.

I can't even begin to think of what this trip is going to look like, so get creative in your prayers. You might even feel led to pray that if she's got lice, they will be lazy lice and not inclined to jump anywhere. I have no idea??? One prayer that I would seriously covet, though, is prayers for the hearts of everyone in our family. For Maci and me to start bonding right off the bat, for Spencer's and Leah's and Dave's hearts to be open and ready to receive Maci when we return, and just for our family dynamics all around when we start our life as a family of 5. All I can think of to say as I wrap this up, get ready to pack and get ready to pick up OUR DAUGHTER is hold onto your hats everybody- this is gonna be a ride! Lord have mercy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Where are My Keys?

I can't tell you how SLOWLY these days are ticking by. We are so ready for Meeraf to get home We know it is going to be hard, but we just can't wait to see her little smile and hear her little laugh again. We are waiting to hear how the birth mom interview goes on the 21st and we are hoping that Sunnie (my fest friend from high school) and I will be on a plane by the 23rd. We have been waiting a total of 10 months, from the first referral to, HOPEFULLY, picking up our child. That is some serious wait time! Meanwhile, encouragement comes when I need it most and the other day, I needed it most. Here is the story.

Friday mornings are always a little hectic and this past one was no different. My Mops group was responsible for bringing sweets and I thought the morning would be a fine time to bake some cookies and get the kids out the door on time. In mid bake, I was pondering our financial situation. I will not be teaching for a couple months when Meeraf comes home and in addition to that, our hoped travel time is right over Spring Break. I don't know who is shouting "Spring Break 2012 in Ethiopia!", but somebody must be, because the demand is high and the tickets are pricey for the next few weeks. I mean REAL pricey! I was even making a list of things we could sell in our next garage sale to cover the months I won't be teaching. Anyway, the morning went on. I finished the cookies, got everybody ready, grabbed my keys, started putting stuff in the car, set my keys down somewhere, and then realized that I couldn't find my keys, even though I had just used them. If I had a nickel for every time I said, "Where are my keys," I would never have had to raise a cent for this adoption! Naturally, my extra set of keys were also MIA, so in my rush, I had no other choice than to close my eyes, get ready for an explosion, and dump out my purse. Out came my wallet, a teacher survey, children's church bulletins, paint chip colors, 18 receipts, a couple suckers, some photographs, my extra set of keys, and an unfamiliar envelope. I turned it over and it said "The Aldridge Family" on it, along with a couple of verses, one being James 1:27. (Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world). Even in my rush to get to preschool and Mops, I had to check out this envelope. I hastily opened it and I saw a hundred dollar bill peeking out. I opened it further and took out the bills and there were ten, 100 dollar bills. I was seriously shaking! I couldn't believe it!!! There was no name on it, and no indication of where it came from. On top of that, I had no idea, when it had been snuck into my purse. I'm sure whoever put it in there has been on their knees, praying that I didn't throw it away with the rest of the trash in my purse. My mind was in overdrive, trying to figure this out. Needless to say, I left all the cookies at home.

I think that one of the neatest things for me in this story, is that I got to share it at Mops. And for the first time in quite a few months, I said the words, "God is good." They just came out of my mouth when I was sharing that story. I haven't really felt too comfortable saying those words with the whole Negusu situation and to be honest, it's been hard to believe that God is good. I'm not saying that I am comparing getting money to getting Negusu, but it was a reminder that God knows my needs and he meets them. Slowly, I am starting to let go of the need to understand what God is doing and I am trying to trust Him anyway. It's tough. It's living by faith and not understanding, for sure.

P.S.- A couple days later, I also found a gift certificate for Boriello Brothers in that same purse. I love that purse:) Of course, I really love all of you that keep us going with your spoken, your anonymous, your tangible, and your loving encouragement. You all know we'd be a wreck without you!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The "Sprinkle"

Today's post is likely to be a smattering of different thoughts, if you will. The first being more of an informational update than the rest. Just minutes ago, we received an email from Embassy telling us that they have scheduled a birth mom interview for March 21st. I don't know when that means that we will travel, but most likely soon after. That feels like a long way away from now, but with this extra time, maybe we can eradicate all existing fighting, whining and crying amongst the two cherubs here, so that Maci Meeraf can join a sweet and peaceful family. Woah . . . OK. . . . back to reality. Anyway, hopefully, we'll be traveling the week after her interview?

Changing gears, now. A week ago Sunday, something monumental happened in this whole adoption world for me. It was a baby shower (or "sprinkle" as my friend Erin named it). I know these happen all the time and they are cute and fun and cheery times, but this one was big for me. I was even hesitant about it, because everyone has done so much for me already. But here is how it all went down in my eyes. As soon as I pulled up, I could tell there was a party to be had, with balloons, a big "M" on the door made of tissue paper roses and it didn't stop there. As I entered the house, the hostesses were all wearing shirts with Africa on them. That was even a story in itself. The long of the short of it, was that Erin came across this website a couple days prior to the shower and a neighbor of hers that doesn't even know me, ended up buying the shirts (and shirts for our 3 kids with the same logo) at the last minute! What a blessing she was, because on top of making the shower even more special, it just so happens that the lady who made the shirts was doing it as a fundraiser for her adoption from ET and she is with my same agency. That was just a fun little twist. Anywho . . . everything was done up to the nines, with bookmarks, the best strawberry cake in the world, pendant flags with Maci's name on it, super cute name tags and the list goes on. Erin kept saying in her slightly southern twang, even though she is from Colorado, "GIRRRRRRRL, it's just paper!" But it wasn't just paper. It was an all out celebration of Maci. Up to this point, when people have said, "Congratulations, that is so exciting that you are bringing home Maci, " I have replied, even sometimes out loud, "Yeah, but we still don't know about Negusu." During this shower, I didn't even think about Negusu and I consider that a good thing. It was so fun to know that I could be sooooooo excited about bringing home Maci, even without Negusu. I just can't wait to bring her home!!!! So, thank you to all who made the shower such a turning point for me and Maci. I can never thank you enough. Speaking of thank yous, maybe this post can stand in lieu of all the thank you notes I need to write. Just kidding - they should be trickling in. However, if you don't get one before we travel to ET, then still know that I am eternally grateful for that shower and for the sweet notes and gift cards:)

I'm all in the mood to write now and I have so much more to talk about, but I'll leave this post as is and try to attach the video that we showed at the shower. The first slides are of pictures of trips that I have taken that has led us to adopt overseas. The very first picture was taken when I was in 8th grade, in Mexico, and was seared into my brain as the very first view of extreme poverty.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Give Me an E . . .

Give me a M, give me a B, give me an A, give me 2 S's and a Y. What does that spell? EMBASSY! We were submitted to embassy today, which feels like a big deal to me. So, now that embassy has it in their hot little hands, they can decide to take our case in a couple different directions. We should know in a couple weeks what path our case will take. The most desirable option would be for them to say, "come on over and bring your little one home." The next, and most likely option would be that embassy would choose to interview Meraf's birth mom, which would likely add an extra 3 to 5 weeks. The third and least desirable option would be that our case would have some sort of unknown extenuating circumstances that would stall out the process for awhile. Obviously, we are rooting for the first option. This all really might happen, people!

In the meantime, I am trying to prepare our kids for Meraf's arrival. Spencer seems down with it all, but Leah keeps saying, "I want Magusu." However, the other day she did say that she would pass her old shoes to Meraf (she's so thoughtful, huh?) and she also said that she wanted Meraf to have a "pink on pink" bedspread. I feel like that is progress, right?

Speaking of bedspreads, my sister-in-law really outdid herself on this one. In the mail today, arrived the most incredible quilts for Leah's and Meraf's beds, in addition to a little mini quilty blanket to take with me to pick her up. I seriously felt like someone on the Ellen show that just won a new car. I love them THAT much. They have the same fabrics, but they are both a little different. And then the topper, is that she told me the she and another lady prayed over the quilts and for the girls as they made them. Don't think I didn't have a little tear in my eye when she told me that. It is all starting to feel so real now and I'm ready!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chapter Meerof

Before I get started on the next chapter, I have a few thoughts to share. Sometimes, like yesterday, when I press "publish post" I start wondering if I revealed or said too much. I have this urge to go back and delete the ugly parts. Had I done that yesterday, I would not have been blessed by a few messages that, at least for 24 hours now, have talked me off the ledge and have once again stirred up a new hope for Goosey to come home. So, thank you to John, Emily and Kathy who have the life experiences to give perspective in situations such as mine. And thank you to the rest of you who allow me to write and never judge. This blog has been a lifeline for me throughout this journey.

Chapter Meerof:
Meerof is a beautiful (we would guess) 2 and a 1/2 year old, with story telling eyes, a bright smile and if I had to guess, a lot of personality. Upon our first meeting, none of this was very apparent, but that didn't come as a surprise to us. We were at the care center for about 45 minutes while she was finishing up her nap. Then, when our guard was finally down, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a four year old girl, walking Meerof towards us. There was no formal introduction, we had no idea if she was told anything about us, or if she had any concept of what was going on here. Actually, I know she knew something was up, because she was in protective mode for sure. She was only dropped off by her mom at an orphanage about 3 months ago, so she is in the middle of the throws of this life tragedy and the hurt was speaking loudly in this moment. Her gaze was averted, her shoulders and her hands were up by her ears and her jaw was fixed in a tight underbite. She held very defensive pose and nothing was going to break her of that the first day. Knowing what she was going through, we didn't want to push her to crack a smile or be any other way than how she was feeling. I can't wait to attach the picture of me and Meerof on the first day. I'm like totally glowing and she looks so stern. Overall, it went pretty much how I expected it would.

The few days, held new expressions and a peek into who she really might be. About a half an hour in on day two, we got our first smile. It was none other than a Koosh ball that brought about her dreamy smile and even a little giggle. Precious!!!!!!!! Then, a little while later, she stood on my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck and gave me two little hugs. I tried to be cool, but I was shocked that she initiated this timid and calculated move. She was very protective of me and Dave and would ward off any others who were trying to gain our attention. Each day she had a toy of choice. Usually it was a ball, but a couple days it was a little tin drum. Save the child who would try to take those away from her! One of the highlights of our entire trip was on the fourth day at the care center. All the kids were eating lunch. She was one of the first to emerge and she made a running beeline straight for us. Every time we were there, she preferred to play with us rather than the other kids, which made for some good old fun play time. It was a tough balancing act those few days we got to see her. We almost didn't want to form some incredible bond even if that were possible, because we knew we would be walking away and we know she doesn't understand, "we'll be back in 6 weeks." All she knows right now, is that we stepped into her life and now we are gone. I hate that! Hopefully, these next few weeks will fly by and hopefully, she has some innate notion that we will be back to get her!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chapter Goose

Jet lag seems to have the best of me in this early hour, so I thought I would attempt to bring my blog somewhat up to speed. What to say, is the big question? I guess I'll start from the beginning. I'll gloss over the actual getting to ET, with words like delays, sprinting, missed flights, more sprinting, missing luggage. I think you get the picture. Ok - that was easy. Onto the next chapter.

Chapter Goosey: The morning after we arrived we headed down to Awassa, which is about a 4 1/2 hour harrowing drive. The near misses would total about 42 going and about a 102 returning to Addis. We had an amazing driver and guide, but HOLY COW, my blood pressure is still trying to reach normal levels from that drive. Anyhooooo . . . . . . . I think I'm stalling, due to not knowing where to start with Goosey, but here I go.

We went to see the Goose that first day and I can without hesitation tell you that he is an easy baby to fall in love with. He has a smile that can melt steel. He is so interactive and loves to say "da da da da da," and when he gets excited he bobs his head up and down and up and down. However, even in the midst of the joy there was a monster growing wildly within. A big giant dose of FEAR! While Goosey has put on some much needed weight, his legs seemed utterly useless. Part of the time I was there I wanted nothing more to do than run away with him, and the other part of me, just wanted to simply run. How is someone supposed to handle this? Do we turn our backs on this baby we love and say, I'm not sure I can handle you? Or do we trust that God didn't give us Goosey for all these months and move forward, even with the uncertainty? I can safely say that I will never be awarded a Mother Theresa Award. I'm scared to death of disease, difficult health situations, not to mention the common cold. I'm only compassionate from afar in those situations, but I'm not eager to enter a life that could be consumed with doctors appointments and the like. So, I'd go back to the hotel and just cry. Cry from fear, cry from guilt of these terrible thoughts of giving up on the Goose, cry from the months of hardship the whole process has brought, cry from wondering where God is in Goosey's situation. You name it, I was crying about it. This isn't how it was supposed to look. But the story continues.

The first couple of times we went to see Goose, we were accompanied by the orphanage director. If we would at all try to stretch his legs or do anything to make him work, he would cry and they would take him away from us. It was hard to figure anything out with her there. On the third visit, we had a little time alone with him. So, we immediately went to work. I held Goosey's trunk, while Dave braced his legs on the ground. Low and behold, I slowly let go, and Goosey, held onto Dave's hair for support, and stood on his legs. I'm 100% sure, that it was the first time, he had ever really tried to use his legs. He wouldn't straighten up, but he did use his legs! Then Dave did a few more PT maneuvers on the Goose in between the manager checking in with us. After just a couple hours of trying to challenge the Goose, he seemed to really respond. Has this diminished my fear of something being terribly wrong with him? Of course, not. If you know me, then you know how I am about stuff like this. Has it diminished Dave's fear of something terribly wrong with him. Of course. Dave is convinced that it is just the effects of orphanage living. Goose has never been challenged to use his legs. He goes from the crib to someone's arms, to the bumbo we brought him in September, back to the crib. I'm not sure he knew he had legs before last week. I can say, it is a real possibility that orphanage living is to blame for his lack of leg mobility and I can say that he could be running and jumping, etc. . . in months after he gets home, but I also think there could be other reasons . . . hence the fear.

All of this could be a mute point, though, because Mowa still has not signed his paperwork. It is completed, his case has been fully investigated, it has been signed off by the person who has held it up for months, and now it has been sitting on the desk of the last person who needs to sign it. She doesn't even need to comb through the paperwork - all she needs to do is put her initials on it. Two letters, is what would decide if Goosey grew up in that orphanage and if he would grow up here. Although, who knows how long that orphanage can stay open. While we were there, we heard that Mowa threatened to close it down, because it couldn't pay the government. How screwed up is that? The government won't allow the orphanages to make money by allowing adoptions, but wants to close them down when they can't pay the government. There is no doubt in my mind that corruption is running deep in this. We stopped by the Mowa office there to try and meet up with the elusive non-signer. In the parking lot was a shiny new "funded by Unicef," car. To be honest, we didn't actually see it, but a representative from our agency was there at the same time and asked if we saw it. He actually did get to visit with one of the Mowa representatives, who was about 24, no kids, not married, never had heard of adoption before taking this post and was very defensive. When he asked if there is anything he could do to help them, she basically said, you can stop adopting our kids out of ET and set up sponsorships instead. That is totally fine. I get that. What I don't get, is why they will let hundreds of babies suffer in the meantime, while they don't have a sponsorship program set up. Blah, blah, blah, - I could go on forever. The point being, we have no idea if they will ever sign his paperwork.

I guess I should wrap this up, since it is turning into more of a book than a post. What I can say about the Goose, is that he is nothing short of one of the most amazing babies I've ever met. I'm scared to death to bring him home and I'm scared to death to leave him there. God only knows what is best for him, for me, for Spence, for Leah, for Meerof for Dave, etc. . . . In the early morning hours in Awassa, with pleas to God and streams of tears, God did not answer me with a nudge to bail quite yet, although I wanted to. What He kept impressing on me was "whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me." So, we continue to wait it out for now with a lot of prayer and a little bit of fear and trembling.