Monday, December 3, 2012

Ethiopia Day #2 and meeting Christian!

So day #2 in Ethiopia, we woke up feeling much better than the day before. Little did we know that was probably the best night's sleep we got while we were there. We got to spend a little time at the transition home before we headed out for the morning.
Jacob and his sister spent a little time playing and we were able to see what the children's morning routine was.

The other two families would be visiting their child's orphanages and going on a day field trip. We opted out of that trip because we had another great opportunity! We were going to get to meet the child we sponsor through Compassion International. We were so excited that this worked out even with the travel details having to be fairly last minute. We were so impressed with the staff at Compassion and their willingness to help this happen!
We have sponsored Christian for several years and correspond with letters but were unsure if we would ever get to meet this child. We had a little surprise. We had originally been told our sponsor child was a GIRL! (just a small clerical error at the very beginning of our sponsorship) Just as we walked up the staff liaison and translated said, "he is just over here." We had a second to back pedal and he assured us that a few pink items like this backpack were fine, color was not as gender specific in Africa. We did breathe easier when he walked up holding pink sunglasses! There was several gender non specific items in the backpack we brought and he was able to take the barbie doll to his sister:)

Christian & the translator in the background. We really enjoyed getting to meet the staff as well. This particular man had been sponsored through Compassion starting at a young age. It was so neat to hear his story.

Jacob & Christian hit it off. They are both 7.

Christian's father was able to make the trip, he is to the side in the black jacket and purple shirt.
It was incredible to meet him and hear about his family. He is planting churches in very rural areas in Africa. We were able to talk with the translator about how we are partners for the gospel across the world. Another treat was Christian's mom was able to call while we were all together. 
His parents shared that Christian was born 2 months early and is truly a miracle. The mother baby nurse in me asked how much had he weighed. His dad answered that he was never even weighed, they sent him home believing he would die. I told his dad that I knew the Lord had blessed them by sparing Christian's life and that He had great plans for Christian & that he and his wife has taken excellent care of him for him to do so well. His dad was very gracious and said they could not do what they do without the sponsorship.


We met Christian and his father and the staff at an amusement park (I know...who knew there would be an amusement park in Ethiopia?!) It was a weekday and we had the whole place to ourselves!

Jacob and Christian had a great time together! At one point they were playing ball and of course, two 7 year old boys and a ball & there is no language barrier. 
This was an once in a lifetime opportunity. We were so thankful we were able to meet this sweet boy and his family. We are grateful Jacob had this chance at such a young age to actually meet Christian and this turned into so much more than a quarterly letter but became very real for him.
We can not say enough about Compassion International. If you have never sponsored a child before, consider this! Particularly this season, what a way to honor someone by sponsoring a child in their name!
Check out Compassion!

Back to the transition house...this is the front of the building. The bottom floor is the living area, where we ate, and administrative offices. The second floor is where the children eat meals and have some learning time. The third floor is guest rooms and where we slept. I forgot to get a picture before our luggage filled the room.

Living Room
The wall behind the sofa has pictures of all the children who are already home. We are looking forward to adding a picture to that collage!

  Looking out from our window

 Looking out over the court yard and where the children play, you can also see laundry hung to dry

We had a lot of fun with a color wonder book and colored the whole thing that week! We will need to grab another one for the flight home!

We got tickled because every time she finished, every marker had to be returned to the perfect place. She kept all plastic to wrap everything back up just so. 

Showing her new backpack with a couple of her new things
Can't wait until that is a headed to school picture! Doesn't she look ready?:)
Aunt can see she still had the cross necklace on. We told her over and over that Jesus loved her so!

This is love!

Next up on the blog catch up...court day!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ethiopia day #1

So I left off with hopes of updating the blog from Ethiopia. I would say it is just my usual good intentions but I did not keep up. However, we really did not internet at all until the last day. We had heard the internet was "spotty" but there were problems that week and it actually was "non existent" until we were just about the leave! 

Meeting our girl for the first time

You imagine this moment over and over in your minds. Yet knowing there is no way to predict what will happen. What will she think of her new family? Am I going to burst into tears and scare her to death? The Lord was SO good! We had not slept AT ALL. We all three had been put on antibiotics before leaving for ear infections or sinus infections & had not slept except for minutes on the plane When we landed it was almost 8 AM in Ethiopia & the day was just getting started where we had left Atl almost 24 hours ago. I cry even easier when I have not slept and was literally scared I would scar her if I burst into tears and she was going to think "this woman looks terrible! This is the best you could come up with!" The Lord gave us an extra measure of adrenaline & we did not feel the exhaustion until later that day.
Although we were all overcome with emotion, the Lord kept us in check and it literally happened a bit quicker than we thought. We looked up and there she was! We actually caught her peeking through the window with a little friend before they officially brought her in. She looked so excited!

Within just a couple of minutes of her coming in I commented, "your hair is so pretty!" It had grown since our first picture of her. She took that cue & pointed to all of her body parts in ENGLISH. She had the cutest little accent as she proudly went down the, eyes, ears, nose, arms, chest, hands, body.

For just a second after that, she acted very nervous. Almost like she may cry or maybe that she was really excited. I patted her on the back and told her it was OK & that moment seemed to pass.
It was overwhelming to think what our little girl must be thinking, what she may have been thru in her short little life & how we wanted to tell her how much we already loved her. God was so good to make that moment special but not so overwhelming that we could not hold it together for this precious one in front of us. 

First photo together, just minutes after meeting.
I would say first family photo but we are missing two very important pieces of our puzzle at home so we will have to wait for the first official family photo.

One of the neat things about this week was getting to meet two other families. One was adopting an infant boy, their first child. The other family had adopted from Ethiopia before and were adopting their 8th child! An added blessing was getting to spend the week with these families and get to share in each other's monumental events. One of the other parents snapped this photo for us.

It did not take long.....Daddy's girl

Showing her a photo album of her family & introducing her to the fact there are 2 MORE brothers at home! She won't let go of the baby doll we brought her

Brother and sister are fast friends

Especially since apparently she can throw a football!
She will fit right in:)

Don't get me wrong though! She may be able to throw the ball with her brother but she is ALL girl, look at that pose!

She spent the rest of that morning playing with her, seeing where she slept & her world at the transition home. While she went to eat lunch and be with her friends in her little class, we snuck away for a quick nap & woke up to finish a bit of paperwork with the director in country. Even though we were exhausted we did go to a transitional Ethiopian restaurant....which is not a quick dinner by any means but an evening  full of eating and entertainment. I will follow up my next post with more pics, day 2 & visiting our Compassion child in Ethiopia!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's a......GIRL!

Yeah, remember how I said I was going to start keeping up with the ol' blog again??
A lot has happened in the last 6 weeks!

We have accepted a referral of a little girl from Ethiopia and the exciting news to go with that is we leave in 2 days for our first trip and court date!

I will back up for the sake of journaling. We learned about this sweet girl the end of September and officially accepted her referral October 1st. We will share more about her in days to come and also after we meet her. There will be parts of her story that we keep within our family as just as in any adoption, adoption stems from loss & and we don't ever want to regret sharing parts of her life that she isn't even aware of yet or that are private.. We actually know very little about her past or her birth parents. We are so thankful that the Lord has brought her to us and that she is in the wonderful transition home that partners with our agency. We have enjoyed getting pictures of her and learning little tid bits of her personality. Of course, we absolutely can not wait to see her in person, learn more about her and assure her that she has a family waiting for her. 

 The next six weeks have been such a whirlwind and God has been so good to affirm this decision so many times! We first had to wait for a court date and we received our court date on October 29th. We were to be in Ethiopia November 12th and would go to court November 14th. Talk about some craziness around here but all vey exciting. Jacob will go with us on this trip and we can't wait for him to meet his sister and have a trip of a lifetime. He is so excited! We know this will be so neat for their bond and will be something neither one of them forgets.

So what now?
We go to court November 14th and pray the judge gives a positive ruling for our adoption. If so, she will officially be a Houston! BUT and it is a big BUT if you are not familiar with Ethiopia adoption. We don't get to bring her home until we get an US embassy appointment, hopefully SOON! But we know the Lord has His hand on her and cares for her even more than we do. He obviously has a great plan for her life and we can't wait to be a part of it!

I could go on and on about how good the Lord has been to us the last few weeks and how He has worked in our lives and in the life of our little girl but there is still packing to do. Not sure how our internet will be in Ethiopia but I hope to post and update and share good news mid next week!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why Ethiopia?

So Why Ethiopia?


As I am trying to get back on the blog band wagon, I want to try and update a little about our adoption as well as keep up with a journal for our family. A natural question that is asked is "how did you decide on Ethiopia?"
 There is a really long answer which involves praying about adopting for YEARS! The "short" answer is that we felt a burden to adopt and looked into many different possibilities all the way from adopting out of the foster care system domestically to international adoption. There are so many needs for children worldwide, international adoption is just where we felt led and God confirmed that over and over. When we started our research, Ethiopia came up immediately. We looked into that and Ethiopia had experienced a lot of changes in their process, one that made the process a little harder was that now 2 trips are required. We also looked into several Latin America countries and pretty much hit dead ends rather the process involved actually living in the country for weeks or months all the way to countries now being closed to adoption. We kept coming back to Ethiopia. While we were researching agencies, I prayed that the Lord would just shut doors or open doors for where He wanted us to go and what agency to use. There are many great Christian agencies out there, how in the world do you decide? One day I was talking to a social worker from Lifeline and we had pretty much narrowed it down to two agencies. God gave me great peace while talking to her. There was not anything at all wrong with the other agency but they did require you maintain birth order while adding to your family. We have really felt like we should keep Jacob the oldest (he is a typical first born) but other than that, we were open. There are so many families who request babies that it is sometimes harder to place the older children. 
Since maintaining  birth order that was a requirement of the 2nd agency, the Lord made it clear that we should use Lifeline. In that process, I think He just kept probing, "I led you to Ethiopia along time ago, just trust me." We officially started our paperwork the beginning of this year. 
 God has been so good to affirm this decision so many times! And He has provided quite a network for us not just adoption in general but specifically families adopting from Ethiopia. One of my greatest friends for college is also adopting from Ethiopia! I don't think it is at all an accident that He has us on this journey together. I just got a FB message last night from a friend we ran into at the laser show a few months ago. We had not seen each other in at least 11 or 12 years! She messaged me last night and they are also using Lifeline and adopting from Ethiopia. No, not an accident at all!

I am somewhat hesitant to post statistics etc but want to give a general idea to the immense need in Ethiopia. I have done some research and have looked at creditable resources and am going to post a few things about Ethiopia, this is ever changing so please forgive me if there is a more current fact available.

There are great challenges in Ethiopia where the statistics are stacked against the children:
  • 1 in 10 children die before their first birthday
  • 60% of children are stunted because of malnutrition
  • 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone and there are 4.6 million total orphans now
  • 50% of the children will never attend school
  • The doctor to child ratio is 1:24,000
  • 60% of the country is illiterate 
  • only 45% of the children attend primary school, as children are often needed for labor and to help with farming, housework or to earn wages

Even if we were not speaking of Ethiopia, it haunts me that 26,000 children die a day from hunger or preventable diseases. You would think that after having another biological child, we would consider our home "full." Where actually our 3rd child only intensified my burden. Micah has several minor health problems....asthma, moderate food allergies but the fact of the matter is he is on medications to keep his asthma under control. We have given him emergency steroids several times in his life and we walk around with an epi pen in case he encounters something that causes a severe allergic reaction. Micah would not survive in a third world country. Where many parents in these countries don't even have the healthcare to take care of their children, our only obstacle is metro Atlanta traffic! Even as we have had to watch our budget, I have never known what it feels like to not be able to provide my child with food, clean water, pedialyte or gatorade when they have simple diarrhea.
So, yes we have room. Room in our hearts, room in our homes.

I know what you are thinking...that was the "short" answer?!
I am sure along the way, I will post more about our child's birth country and other reasons for pursuing a child from there. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for this child alongside us!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Year in Review & getting back to the blog

What does one do when they have not blogged in an entire year???? Do a very condensed recap. It may seem lots a ton of pictures but squeezing in a whole year is tough! Our 3 boys have grown so fast & we have enjoyed all of their milestones and activities. I did brief descriptions of most pics or groups of pics below. 
One of the reasons I got behind blogging is just life was busy, busy! I did want to pick it back up to journal for our family. We also want to keep everyone updated on our next journey. Many of our friends and family know of our burden for adoption. We were even researching agencies when we had the sweet little surprise of Micah's pending arrival!
The Lord only increased that burden as we welcomed Micah and although life became even busier, we knew He still intended for our family to adopt. We started the paperwork at the beginning of the year and were able to turn in our dossier (collection of lots of paperwork, official documents, and lots of education) this summer. Our dossier arrived in Ethiopia August 6th and that is when we considered officially on the waiting list for our child. I will be using the blog to stay more up to date hopefully on the Houston happenings and keep everyone updated about our adoption.
The next few posts may be more details about the adoption (why we chose Ethiopia, age range of our little one etc)
Thanks for picking back up with our family's journey! And tolerating the many pics below!
Back to school pics 2012 are on the sidebar

Fall 2011
Jacob's first season playing baseball!

Micah fall 2011, growing fast

On his first hayride, Jaemor farms 


Fun trick or treating with our friends

Micah turns one!

Thanksgiving 2011
(so hard to get a picture of 3 at one time!)

Christmas 2011


The summer birthdays in Logan's preschool class all celebrated on one day together

 Jacob's 7th birthday
He was sick on the actual day but we celebrated a few days later

Jacob loses his top 2 teeth

Logan and Micah (outfits also worn by Jacob and Logan at similar ages:)

Jacob played basketball this season

Zoo trip during spring break

One of our transcultural exercises for our adoption education we choose to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant

Dying Easter eggs with friends

Easter morning 2012

Logan's end of preschool year, with Mrs Elina

Strawberry Picking 2012

Logan's 4th birthday. He shares a birthday with his friend Bella who turned 5. She had her birthday the day before, it was so sweet for her to come to Logan's party. We sang to both of them.

After months of paperwork and education, we mail off our dossier!

GBCN girls get together

 Beach Trip 2012
Houston Family

 LFBC ladies mission trip to Haiti
(the best pics are the ones with the sweet children but we can't publish those on FB or a blog)

Extra special gift getting to serve with my sister, Stephanie