Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 2, Full and Final

The kids are doing great and adjusting beautifully. Today we had our appointment at the US Embassy. The kids were patient while we waited and loved the bus ride. The appointment accomplished exactly what we came for. The official said, "Your adoption is now full and final." Those are words we've been longing to hear for so long.
Here are some fun and funny things about the kids. Lucy has taken 4 baths in 2 days. She loves the water and sprays herself in the face with the hose and laughs... and I had worried they'd hate the bath. Jude also enjoys it but doesn't ask for more than one a day. His favorite thing to do though is wash his hands, over and over and over... again and again. We've named the game soapy sink. They are calling us by name. Lucy says mommy and daddy, and Jude says mama and baba. We have random dance parties and the kids love our iphones. They will hold them to their ear and listen to music and dance, so cute! (unfortunately the charger is temporarily MIA... this could get ugly)
I'm pretty sure Lucy has learned more English in 2 days than I learned of Spanish in 2 years. They are so bright and beautiful. God is working in their lives and bringing healing. It is an incredible experience to see them learn and begin to trust us. I don't know if she knows what it means yet or if she's repeating it because I've said it 3000 times... but Lucy will whisper "I lub ywo" in my ear. Jude is fascinated with his daddy's beard and hair. He rubs his hands and his face against it and has the most infectious giggle.
We haven't been able to take many pictures, which makes me sad... but this is because the kids see the camera and want to take it and then they fight over it. I'm thinking I need to get them their own little cheap digital cameras.

Now the we've heard "full and final" I can post pictures! These are from the first trip.

More to come, but with this spotty internet it takes five minutes to load one photo.

Our Gotcha Day

We have been unable to have internet access in our room and leaving the kids to post on the blog hasn't been a priority. I just woke up in the middle of the night and the internet is working. I've been journaling and here is day one.

Our Gotcha Day

Today, November 7th, 2011 our family grew by two with the addition of our precious son and daughter. We arrived in Addis just after 8 am, collected our bags and were taken to the hotel. Upon arriving at the hotel we received our itinerary. It stated that we were to be picked up in 40 minutes to head to Hannah’s Hope. We quickly checked into our room and tried to organize all of the toys and clothes to eliminate complete chaos ensuing when we arrived back to the room with the kids. We packed all of the donations together and headed to Hannah’s Hope.

We had been praying that the kids would remember us after three months and be comfortable coming with us. When the van pulled into the gates of Hannah’s Hope I saw our daughter first. She was standing with a group of friends with a curious look on her face I opened the door and waved to her. She walked toward us as we got out of the van. I knelt down to hug her and she hugged back. She was definitely timid, but certainly remembered us… and within moments was full of smiles. While bending down to hug Lucy I heard a familiar sound, the cry of our son. He saw us and started screaming and crying. My momma heart broke, but I totally understand the fear inside of him. He is 22 months old, a typical age for any child to experience stranger and separation anxiety. I had prepared myself for this and knew that God would take care of it. We didn’t spend a lot of time at HH before deciding that it was best to begin our time together at the hotel. Meanwhile Lucy was already ready and determined to leave. She’d begun dragging my backpack to the van and pulling as hard as she could in an attempt to open the door! David scooped Jude in his arms and he began to calm. The van doors opened and both kids hopped in Lucy with excitement and Jude with curious apprehension. As we were driving down the road away from Hannah’s Hope we were met by several of Hannah’s Hopes’ school aged children on their way back from school. Wass, our driver stopped and the kids all said goodbye to their beloved friends and Lucy and Jude got lots of kisses from their sweet friends. It was a beautiful moment, my eyes filled with tears. I was so excited to be starting our lives together but sad for all they are leaving. I’m not sure they understand that they might never see those friends again. For the moment though Lucy was ear to ear smiling and ready to hit the hotel.

We walked into the hotel and prayed as a family. Then we showed the kids around the room. I pulled out their matching elephant toys. I showed them where a few other toys were and we had a snack. Jude remained calm for the most part and is constantly seeking to be held, especially by his daddy. We are so thankful for all the prayers, things are going beautifully. Jude is really into his toy car that shoots forward when pulled backward and they continue to look at the scrapooks that I made for them for the first trip. The books are nearly destroyed, I love it! I’m so glad that they’ve been looking at them.

Lucy then discovered the clothes! She is quite a fashionista. She picked up each article of clothing and shoes and asked if it was for her and if it was obviously for Jude than she’d put it in an organized pile for him. She gestured to me asking if she could get undressed. For hours she kept changing her clothes every 20-30 minutes. I’d take her to look in the mirror and she’d pick a headband for the outfit. SHE IS TOTALLY MY DAUGHTER. If you know me well, you know that I’m nearly OCD about matching and she coordinated everything perfectly, she does it rightdown to the underwear. Ha! She’d then say “daddy, daddy” looking for him to tell her how great she looked. They both say “beep beep” asking us to hold them up to the window to see the cars go by. Their appetites are huge and there is nothing they haven’t liked yet.

So thankful. So blessed. I should try and get some sleep… I’ve been up writing this unable to sleep but enjoying the sweet symphony of snoring!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orphan is a bad word

Okay, orphan isn't a curse word... but I don't really like that word. It breaks my heart for what it means. Its definition is sketchy, and the reality that there are are anywhere from 143-170 million children in the world that fall into the category, who receive that label is DEVASTATING. I think most people go through life not really givingthe orphan, widow, people in distress and need.... etc a second thought. I think that this is often due to a disconnect. They assume that is a tale of another world, so far and distant. People can't relate to these statistics because they haven't seen it face to face. The truth is, there are orphans right here in America. Its a big world, but God created all of it, and loves each one of us. There are people in need and the Bible doesn't just suggest, or recommend that we "care" to do something about it. It is a command and a huge focus in the word. It is the gospel.

Today is Orphan Sunday. Chances are, if you have a friend who has adopted they've spread the news on facebook, if you went to church this morning you might have heard these staggering statistics, seen photos of sad children and desperate situations. Did this stir your heart? All people are created equal and beautiful in the eyes of the Lord. It is my prayer that the stirring God does in the hearts of many will cause them to further seek Him and His will. Not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone is called to do something. Love as Christ loves. The world is fallen and full of brokenness. I do not believe that it is God's plan for there to be millions of orphans. His command is clear and with all my heart I believe that there can be a real change made in the lives of these precious souls. God might be calling you do adopt, support and adoptive family, sponsor a child, serve in a mission. Listen to what He is asking, be ready to say yes.

Today, on Orphan Sunday I am sitting in the Washington Dulles airport waiting to board a plane. When you are all going to sleep tonight in America we will be landing in Ethiopia and it will be Monday November 7th. We will then be heading to pick up our children, and they will be forever ours... orphans no more. Last year Orphan Sunday was on November 7th. We stood up in front of our church and told of what God was doing in our hearts and how he was taking us on a journey to a child in Ethiopia. One year later, we are packed up with boarding passes in hand... ready for the journey of a lifetime. We leave as two and come home as a family of four. I do not like that my children have been given the label of "orphans" but am forever thankful that God chose US to be their forever family. A privilege, an honor, a blessing... to be entrusted with this little lives.

Pictures to come... as soon as we can! GET EXCITED!

An Explosion!

Saturday Nov 5th, 2011

An Explosion, While Many of You just experienced an Earthquake

As I sit in our hotel room in D.C. (courtesy of Ethiopian Airlines) I am reflecting on our 18+ month adoption journey, the time we spent with the kids in Ethiopia, the 3 months since we’ve seen them, and the last week since we found out we were heading back. It’s an explosion.

As I packed the bags for our journey and folded the little clothes emotions rushed over me. Thankfulness has been so present in my heart. I am just so thankful to have a faithful God who has worked out every detail for our kids to come home.

The wait, though it was long, was still incredibly blessed. I’ve fully enjoyed the adoption process. It has been filled with ups and downs, tears of heartache and tears of joy, uncertainty, and difficulty… and so full of blessings. I’m thankful to have learned more about who I am as an adopted child of God. I’ve grown to know my Father in Heaven in a deeper way. I’ve spent time with my amazing husband; our relationship has grown stronger as we have been pushed to the limits emotionally, financially, and spiritually. Today, I am THANKFUL.

During this week of travel preparation I found myself tearing up more than I did when we were stuck in a time of uncertainty about when we’d see our kids again. The tears are tears of thanksgiving. I am just amazed at how God has brought it all together and we are headed to bring them home. On my way home from a trip to the grocery store (to buy snacks for the kids) my heart just exploded at the traffic light and tears streamed from my face. I glanced over my shoulder at the two little car seats in the back, thanking God for Providence. My babes will be in those seats next week as we make the last leg of our journey home.

This morning as I left our house my heart exploded with joy, knowing that the next time we walk through the door we will have our children in our arms. Amazing.

You are probably thinking the extreme excitement is what is bursting from my heart right now… and it is. BUT, there are so many of feelings rushing over me. I am sad too. Yes, I said that! I am sad to be taking our children from a country that they were born in and love. I am sad that we do not speak the same language and that they will be confused. I am sad to be taking them from everything they know. Yes, they are in a transition home which is basically an orphanage setting, and with all of my heart I believe that we are doing the right thing. God has led us to this and it is in His plan. For the time being though, we are going to turn our kids world upside down. They have friends that they love at Hannah’s Hope, a language that they are familiar with, food that that is familiar, and nannies that have truly loved them for months. Our children have fun with their friends and love the nannies that have been their mothers. For them, this is traumatic. Like I said, this is also beautiful. Children belong in families and nothing can change how I feel about that.

So many people have said, “your kids are going to love it here,” your kids are so lucky,” “I bet your kids are so excited,” etc, etc.

My kids are not lucky, but God our God is a God of redemption, He has blessed all of us as he knit our family together. They have been through more than anyone should ever have to face in their young lives. That’s not luck, that’s tragic. Don’t try to tell us that because they are going to be living in America that their life is better. It is different, but not necessarily better. Ethiopia, or any place for that matter, is beautiful and unique… I’d go so far as to say that the excessive and materialistic lifestyle hurts us more than it blesses our lives. When we are forced to live a simple life and work hard for what we have; we are closer to the heart of God. When you rely on God for everything, worship is so much deeper in our souls.

My thoughts and emotions have been all over the place through this post… as I said, “It’s an explosion.”

We are thankful, blessed, and rejoicing that tomorrow we will be together with our children.

Please join us in prayer for the hearts of Lucy and Jude.

~that they will remember us

~that they will feel our love

~that God will be their comfort

~that they will not be confused

~that their bodies will be healthy for this LONG trip home

~that they won’t be afraid

~and for continued peace.

God is watching over us and we are so thankful for his Providence and provision. Thank you for your support, thoughts, and continued prayers. Let the journey begin!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

...and this is your new home.

Sweethearts, this is our backyard. We know how much you love the swings at Hannah's Hope. This is how it will look one day...

And the next, it might be cold and snowy, like this. Colorado weather is CrAzY!

We will have to cuddle up in the playroom I've made and enjoy your toys and books.

This is your bedroom. We love you dearly and pray that your hearts and bodies will find rest in this place.

I made pillows for each of your beds, okay I didn't really make the elephant one.

Our dog Riley likes to warm the beds up for us, she is so excited you are coming home.

Hooded towels are awesome and you are going to look so cute!

*I made a photo book for the kids to look at in the hotel as a "what to expect" for the transition home. I included pictures of the airport, airplanes inside and out, and our home. It is our prayer that this will ease some of their anxiety about all the changes that will be occurring in their lives. After all, we don't speak the same language...yet!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

They are REALLY going to be here.... in our home!

For the the past three months I've prepared our home for two little blessings. I crafted like a madman, designed on a dime, and decorated the room they will share when they come home. I transformed a disastrously, messy, unfinished basement into a suitable playroom (all with things we already had!) It paid well to save all my decor from my room in high school! I took my time on each project because I didn't want to rush and be done with everything... sitting around waiting for a notice to hop on a plane back to Ethiopia.

I truly believe that the energy God gave me each day provided the pace at which I needed to get things done. Last week I knew I was nearing the end of my "work projects" and thought I might end up making endless scarf and hat sets for the kids as a we await a notice. ...And then, we were told to be in Ethiopia by November 7th.... because our children are coming home! Hallelujah, and what wonderful timing!

Countless times throughout the wait I would sit in their unfolding room and pray for them. I would walk into each room of the house and try to picture their precious faces in that room in more than just a wooden frame. I would listen for their laughter and imagine scenarios at the dinner table or playing in the playroom. During these THREE long months without them I would sometimes start to think that the time we spent together in Ethiopia was a fairytale and that I wasn't really a mother.

There were times where I started to wonder if I was a horrible mom. Shouldn't I be devastated and in tears everyday without my children in my arms? Why am I not falling to pieces and pleading with God for them to be home? That was Satan, winning in my thoughts. The TRUTH is, each day was an incredible blessing and a gift from God. Every morning when we woke up he gave us the gift of peace in our hearts, our minds, and our home. Most days I chose to unwrap the gift, open it; to live in the present and let joy and abounding peace reign in my heart. (Don't get me wrong, there was pain and we fervently prayed that they could come home soon.) I am human, there were days that no matter how God revealed his Providence in this (what seemed senseless) wait I was discouraged and broken.

Most certainly I wish we could have brought Lucy and Jude home with us on our first trip. There is nothing I'd like more than to have the last three months back and for our children to have begun living in our family. God's plan has purpose. A quarter.of.a.year.has past since we saw them. I'm sure that their little bodies have grown, as well as their hair, and their hearts. We have missed that; just like the first 4 years of Lucy's and 2 years of Jude's life. -Not a Thing in the World can replace what we will never know. We will never have baby pictures of our little ones. We didn't hear their first words, see their first steps, hold them when they cried as babies. As I wipe the tears from my face now I decide to stop the list. There is a countless list of first and precious moments that we have missed. BUT, I am without a doubt, absolutely, 100%, positively sure... that THIS IS PROVIDENCE. I trust in the Lord with all my heart. Throughout these past months I've found this post by Katie Davis to be exactly how I feel as I trust in my God, the creator of this universe the father of my children, and maker of all things.

The following quote is said much better than I could ever put my thoughts into words.

"He did not choose me for those moments, He chose me for these. I entered motherhood through a different door, and I get a different kind of stretch marks." -Katie Davis

It is so true, God is writing this amazing story of love on our hearts and in our home and His Providence says, "It's Time, I entrust you with these little lives." An amazing gift, privilege, and responsibility has been laid upon us to bring these children up. I thank my God every day for Lucy and Jude's lives and look forward to His gospel being lived out in and through our family.