Monday, December 28, 2009

More letters!!:)

After just receiving letters from Tarikwa just the other day, what a great surprise to find 2 more letters in the mailbox today! Katie was so happy to find one for her and one for all of us.

Here's Katie's:

"Dear Katie,

Hi. How are you? I am fine. How was school? I pray for you everyday. I asked God for everything. Then you write me! I can't wait to meet you. I think my court date finished soon. God be with you. Jesus is my hope. I am so happy now to have a sister. I have never had a sister before now I have a sister and I have never had a brothers now have brothers. I love you Katie and God love you.

I love you."

Then ours:

"Dear My all family,

Hi. How are you my family? How was everything. I am fine. Merry Christmas my family. Today I got letter from you. I am so happy because I got a letter from you. Yes I have Christmas in Layla (her orphanage). Yes, my pants size is 12. Hope next Christmas together soon. I like your pictures so much. (We sent her a many pictures of us, the house, her room, the snow!). I hope my pass court finished soon. I like my bedroom. When I come to Minnesota I want to change my name. Please my family change my name.

God love you my family.


It is so exciting to receive letters from her. It really helps us to get to know her and her hopes and dreams.

We all wondered somewhere in the back of our minds if she would have the desire to change her name when she came home. Her best friend, Letarik wanted her name changed to the middle name that her family had chosen for her. So her new name is Anaya, which has a beautiful meaning. I believe it means 'gift from God.' Both Letarik and Tarikwa's names have the same meaning, 'history.' I think it is absolutely beautiful and we all LOVE her name. But I also understand that Ethiopian's put a much different weight on names than we do in the West, where most of us name our kids because we like the way it sounds, not for the 'meaning' of the name.

I have to admit that I cried when I read of her desire to change her name. After all, her name and her memories is all she will arrive here with, nothing else. Even though we had given the boys American names before we met them, we realized how special their Ethiopian names were and ended up never calling them by American names. So legally and officially, the boys are Micah Mihiretu and Jameson Misganaw. Also special names with wonderful meanings, both American and Ethiopian. Mihiretu means, "God's mercy," and Misganaw means, "Thanksgiving to God."

So Tarikwa wants her name to be history and desires a new name. I will write her and ask her if she has a name in mind. We have come up with a name that we thought would be her middle name but instead, if she likes it, will be her first name.

I fully understand her desire to want to start over, to have a fresh start. And a new name makes sense, I guess. Tears well up in my eyes as I say that because I really don't want her to change her name. I love the name Tarikwa. She's lost so much in her short life and it just seems like a big deal to lose your name, too. But we will honor her wishes and give her a beautiful new name. I will post the name after I get the ok from her. She should hear it first, don't you think? :)

She also sent a couple photos of her. Don't know where she got them but they are so cute!!

Pray this week that both Jill, Medhanit's (Lilly) mom and us get an embassy date. That will determine when we travel to pick up the girls. Remember that we both think it would be wonderful to travel together so the girls can leave the orphanage together forever?? Maybe God thinks that is a good idea, too!

Many blessings,

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some Christmas pics

Misganaw with homemade "schmushmallow" on his face!

I LOVE this picture! Totally cracks me up. Blaine really loves De but they tease each other endlessly. De tends to be a comedian around the house, as you can probably tell. I don't know how he got so covered in marshmallow! I can only imagine what Blaine is saying to him. I love the snarl on Blaine's face. It's all in good fun, I assure you!!

I didn't even know anyone was behind me. Now you see why De makes me laugh constantly!

Yes, it's true...I celebrated my 44th birthday on Christmas Day, hence the 4 candles on the trifle. It was so wonderful to be home to celebrate it.

We got dumped on with the big Christmas snowstorm. It was the most beautiful Christmas ever!!! Mihiretu enjoying some sledding.

If this picture only had sound! Mihiretu's laugh is hilarious. Misganaw is sitting backward on the sled.

Misganaw and Mommy. I have to was pretty fun!

We had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration with our families. My nephew and his wife came from Spokane which made our family complete (except for the one in Ethiopia!). It was the first time our whole family was together for Christmas in 16 years!

We ended up with 20 for dinner but and when we were counting everybody up, I asked Blaine for confirmation on my number. He started out, "Well, we have 7 plus De..." I laughed and reminded him that we still are only 6 and that one of us was still in Africa! He was counting Tarikwa! Sweet, huh?


"My Family"

I'll try to get the Christmas pictures up sometime today but wanted to share the sweet letters we received yesterday from Tarikwa. It was so sweet. She sent a separate letter to Katie, one to Blake, one to "My Family" and one to Mom and Dad. Receiving them just made our Christmas.

One letter was actually a card in which she wrote in big letters, "HAPPY NEW CHRISMARS." Then inside it says,

"Dear My Family,

How are you my family! How was everything. I am fine. Thank you for your letter to me! I pray every day. I can't wait to meet you. I think you will be here soon. I love you my family. Medhanit say Hi. Have many friend. Their name is Letarik, Eskdar, Eyerus and Beleut. God bless you my family.

I love you My Family."

The other one says,

"Dear Mom and Dad

Hi how are you? How has work? I am fine. I can't wait to meet. I love you mom and dad. I prey everyday. I am hope you be come hare soon. Favorite food is pizza and ice-carem. Jesus is my hope. You are my mom an dad forever. You know Medhanit mom? I love mom dad so much. Jesus love you I love you and God love you. May God bless you mom an dad...

I love you

I love you mom an dad (heart)

Love, Tarikw

How sweet these letters are to us! Blake and Katie's both say, "I am so happy you are my brother. You are my brother forever." "I am so happy you are my sister forever."

Do you notice a theme in these letters? How many times does she say "my family" in the first letter? How many times does she say "you are mine forever"? It is so obvious what matters to her, isn't it? Having a family forever is what matters to her.

Her letters are so sweet and yet so sad at the same time. The fact that she's so excited to have a family forever points out that there was a time she didn't have a family forever. Actually, quite a long time. No child should ever have to go through life without a family. It's just not right. It's not God's plan. But Jesus is her hope!

We are so honored that God in all of His wisdom chose us to be Tarikwa's family.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Decorating by Misganaw

Often times people have a difficult time deciding what goes with what. In this case, "What do I put in this vase?"

Or this one?

You know, I would never have thought of a dinosaur but that is one of the benefits of having a 3 year old.

They're also very good at re-decorating the Christmas tree.

It's always good to bunch your ornaments together.

It's even good to hang one from another or even remove a glass icicle from the tree and reinsert it into an upside down hanging baby Jesus' head! It's a neat illusion.

Another example of hanging one ornament from another.

This one has a little of everything. It has a the 'hanging an ornament from another' technique combined with the always popular 'icicle into the horses belly hole' technique. Really lovely.

I overheard Misganaw saying to himself yesterday, "Now, who messed up all these ornaments?"
It was me. I spread them back out and took icicles out of places they didn't belong. Well, I guess he 'fixed' them and added the dinosaurs to the fireplace hearth.

He is available for home consultations on a limited basis. Please comment for an appointment and we'll try to work you in! He's in great demand especially around the holidays because of his expertise with the Christmas tree.

Oh and he'll work for candy.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More pics *edit* even more pics!

I just can't help myself! More pics! This is Anaya (Letarik) and Tarikwa in Ethiopia.

Anaya and Tarikwa in their room at the orphanage.

How precious is this one? This is Tarikwa, Anaya and Lilly (Medhanit) before Anaya left for home. Remember Lilly passed court last Tuesday? All 3 of these girls have found forever families and will be home all in the period of 6 months. They range from age 10-12.

Here she is in the 'family' shirt we sent her. The women she is next to took was kind enough to send these pics to me.

I LOVE this picture of Tarikwa with her gift bag. This is the moment she found out that she has a family. Can you imagine how that feels? She's just glowing isn't she?

"My Family!" Proud as a peacock, huh?


A whole lot of SOMETHING!!!

Who is this beautiful girl in the pink shirt?? She's legally our daughter!!! That's right, I got a surprise email from our agency saying that we had court approval.

This is Tarikwa as she is receiving our gift bag. She's holding a photo album with a pic of our family and the t-shirt she is wearing is the one we sent her with the pictures of our family, including her on it.

I can't believe this day is finally here! The Lord has blessed our family with another daughter and we could NOT be happier today. What a wonderful Christmas present!

Last night, I told Blaine that I would not be calling our agency today and that I just needed to give it up and learn to "wait." So what a surprise to hear from her with this miraculous news!

We will be traveling in February...perfect.

I will add more pictures later when my sweet niece gets here to help me.

For now, I will bask in the goodness of our LORD and you can bask in the cuteness of our daughter:)

Laura (mom to 5 blessings!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A whole lot of nothing

Each and every day, I wake with great expectations of hearing of a new court date for Tarikwa. When I've heard nothing by 2:30, I start to think about emailing our agency. Even though I know that if they had some information for me, they'd let me know, I still check anyway. The answer is always the same, "Sorry, nothing new."

Today, I checked back (way back) on my email to when we were waiting for a travel date for the boys. That was back in the day when the agency didn't tell you when your court date was. They just notified you after you passed court and told you when you could travel to Ethiopia for your embassy date and to meet and pick up your kid(s).

Well, it kind of cracked me up because I was going crazy then, too! I had entitled one email to our adoption specialist, "Having bad dreams!" I then go on to explain to her that we'd had a wonderful Christmas and hoped she had, too. Then I tell her about my bad dream that I had to call her, was at my wits end and was crying and sobbing on the phone to her, asking her if we had a travel date. Keep in mind, I had a really good relationship with this woman! I then asked her if she thought that something was wrong in our paperwork and reminded her that it had been 8 weeks since we'd accepted the referral of the boys. (As if she'd forgotten!)

She had reassured me that everything was fine and we weren't alone and that it was understandable to be stressed...these are your kids, after all!

It made me laugh to remember how stressed I was at this time. There was a family who had received their referral after us, traveled and brought their child home all before we even got a travel date! This is why I was concerned!

I remember calling my sister in law, Pam (a fellow adoptive mom and one who would understand) and I was literally sobbing, telling her that I just cannot do this anymore. I can't wait another minute. And you know what? I no more than got off the phone, checked my email and saw "Travel date...Feb. 1st!" I bawled even more, knowing God had taken me to the very end of myself.

As you know, it all worked out and we do have these two sweet little boys that live in our home and are our sons! So it does all come together!

Why do I stress? I guess just because it's hard. It's hard to wait to hear. It's hard to know she's there and we're here and we want to be together. It's hard to hang in limbo. It's hard to wait.

Keep praying for her and us and this elusive court date and MOWA letter.

I do have to tell you a funny thing that happened to me when I was getting groceries today. After I swiped my card, the cashier said, "Your total is $115. 75."

I looked at the teeny total on the pin pad and said, "I though you said $115.75." She said, "Yes, that is correct." I thought, "Then why does it say $335.75?"

It was then I stood on my tippy toes just far enough away to see that what my eyes were seeing were actually not 3's but indeed 1's. The cashier and I had a good laugh, for you see, she also was over 40.

Lesson for the day...wear your glasses! I wonder what else I'm missing??


Friday, December 11, 2009

Sitting on MOWA's desk

Ours and others' letters are still sitting on the desks of the MOWA experts. Our files are still pending.

I asked, "In the past, what does this usually look like?"

She said that more recently, in the 5 cases where this has happened the cases have been rescheduled in 2 weeks. Last year, when this happened it was taking 4-6 weeks to reschedule the court cases.

Even though I KNOW that God's timing is right and best and I trust Him fully, it feels as though I've been kicked in the stomach. This is really, really hard news to receive.

I'll be honest with you...I want my daughter OUT of the orphanage and home with us! She's been waiting long enough to be a loved and adored part of a family. She's watched her best friend leave and if this drags on long enough, will watch her other close friend leave. Can you imagine being an 11 or 12 year old and having to go through that? Let alone all the other very difficult things she's had to endure in her short life.

So we continue to wait.

Please pray for the MOWA experts to be moved to action right away. Pray that they can't sleep or eat until they get this taken care of for these kids. I know they are probably overworked and are certainly underpaid. Pray that they find more time in their day to get these kids letters over to the court or get new court dates scheduled.

Pray for Tarikwa-that she is not in a panic about what she most certainly does not understand is going on. Pray for peace and comfort for her heart and mind. Pray that she knows how much we love her and are trying to come for her.

Pray for us. Pray for the other kids who are in the very same situation right now.

Thank you in advance.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Still waiting...

De and Katie making pasta. Katie would kill me if she knew I posted this pic!

Misganaw and Mihiretu making sugar and cinnamon rolls.

Little hands. What could be cuter?

Baby it's cold outside!

I did hear yesterday from our agency and she gave me a little tidbit. The representative of the agency is pushing the court to review our cases still this week. She said we'd have to wait until "tomorrow" meaning today. So I am waiting.

It is difficult to wait and not know. God continues to give me peace as I need it, which is about every 15 minutes! He gave me a very tangible message yesterday.

Yesterday was a snow day!! Our districts' first in 4 years. Yipee!! The boys went outside to play and I began preparing some bread dough that the boys would make into cinnamon and sugar rolls when they came in. But first, I needed some music...Christmas music. Now keep in mind, I still have trouble simply turning the TV or DVD player on at times. I know, I know:) So I go to the stereo, hook up the iPod (at this point it's a 50/50 chance that I'm going to get it to work, let alone get Christmas music on!) To my surprise, it comes on. And what is the very first song I hear? "All Is Well" by Michael W. Smith. It's a beautiful Christmas song. I have many CD's worth of Christmas music on that iPod. And what came up wasn't, "White Christmas" or "Frosty the Snowman, " it was "All Is Well." I knew God set that up just for me to hear right then (because there is no way I could have done that!). He's reassuring me and telling me not to worry, He's got it ALL under His control. So that's what I keep saying over and over to myself every 15 minutes or so. Isn't He good to meet me exactly where I am?

So we hope to hear something today and when I do, I'll let you know.

I gotta get Tarikwa's Christmas card written out as there is a family traveling on Saturday and have agreed to deliver it for us. FedEx, here I come again!!

Keep praying!


*Update-the agency here heard nothing from the representative in Ethiopia today:( He said he'd update when he had news. Tomorrow being weeks-end, he will update them regardless of news. So here's praying for good NEWS!

I had to add some pictures to brighten up the day!

All is well, Laura. All is well, Laura. :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The latest on our delay

I've been emailing our agency back and forth trying to get some answers on what happened.

In a nutshell:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was closed Friday and since they must send an approval letter to the court for the adoption, it couldn't get done for the court cases that were to be heard on Monday. When the representative from our agency showed up at court, he found a note on the door stating "no cases would be heard today."

The court did say that they would approve cases once they got the approval letters from MOWA, without another court date having to be set up. However, it seems that they have said this same thing before only to change their mind and eventually require another court date to be scheduled. What we do know is that our case is now 'pending' and was not rescheduled. I was told that in a situation like this, "All we can ever do is wait and see what will happen. There is no way to predict how things will play out."

'Pending' is sort of a frustrating place to be. It feels like we're just floating out in nowhere land because there are no answers.

But God knows. He has the answers and His timing is always perfect. So we continue to trust in the One who is trust-worthy. He loves our daughter more than we do. He is all wise and all knowing and all loving.

So I'm asking for prayer that the court will keep their word and do what they said they will do, which is approve our court case as soon as they receive the approval letter from MOWA and NOT require another court case to be scheduled.

We really appreciate all the prayers from you and the encouraging words!

Now on to some wonderful, wonderful news!!! Tarikwa's friend at the orphanage DID pass court today. They weren't even scheduled for court until tomorrow! But the email came today to her happy Mom that she indeed did pass and she is officially part of their family!!! I can't tell you how thrilled I am for her and her new family! God is so very good.

I'll update as I get any news. In the meantime, pray!


Monday, December 7, 2009


This doesn't look like 'priple' to me!

We couldn't agree on a shade of 'priple' so we went with Tarikwa's other favorite color, BLUE!

We had lots of help building her furniture!

Such eager helpers!

And here is the end result...

Introducing...TARIKWA'S NEW ROOM!!!!!!! There is a dresser on the opposite wall as her bed.

If you've seen the movie, "Blindside" we tried to pick the same color walls that Michael's new room was. We think it turned out beautifully...perfect for a pre-teen.

Now all we need is Tarikwa!!

It seems that the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) was closed on Friday and therefore didn't issue any letters recommending the adoptions that were scheduled for today. There was a note left on the locked doors of the court explaining this.

Jill, my friend who's adopting a good friend of Tarikwa received an email stating that she was rescheduled for the 9th. The only email we received stated that the agency would let us know when they knew about rescheduling.

So what does this mean?? Does it mean that we were scheduled for Tuesday, the 8th and our case will be heard then without needing to be rescheduled? We were told either the 7th or the 8th. Is ours also rescheduled for the 9th with Jill?? I guess I have absolutely no idea. But God knows and we trust His wisdom and timing. But in the meantime we continue to wait.

Thank goodness I am such an experienced waiter:)

Keep praying!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

On pins and needles

While we sleep tonight (or possibly tomorrow night) Tarikwa will be in an Ethiopian court, having her case heard before a judge. If all things are in order, she will legally be declared our daughter. If you haven't been through this, it's hard to describe how it feels.

It feels absolutely wonderful to finally be at this point...court. We are so close!

It feels overwhelming to think that we could be traveling next month!

It feels so exciting to know we will meet her soon!

It feels humbling to think that God sees us worthy of being her parents and family.

Her bedroom was painted on Saturday and today, after a trip to Ikea, her bedroom is complete! May I just say it looks gorgeous! Katie and I had fun lying on her bed just imaging her in her room.

I will post some lovely bedroom pics tomorrow. Be are in for a surprise!

Hope to post some wonderful news tomorrow or Tuesday. Pray that her case will be successful:)


Friday, December 4, 2009

Want a laugh?

Misganaw is one of the funniest little kids I know. He'a always saying something funny and I have to share the highlights of the week.

So here's a little 3 year old humor, just in case you've had a hard week:)

As told by Katie: Last night, Misganaw entered Katie's room and announced to her, "Katie, I'm brown. Do you like me?"

Katie, "Yes, I love that you're brown."

Misganaw, "And you're peachy!"

Katie, "Yes, I am."

Misganaw, "I'm brown and you're peachy but there is candy in your room that is green and I'm just wondering if I could have it so I could put it in my brown tummy??"

Then this morning, Misganaw woke up just as Blaine was getting out of the shower. He went out to put on PBS for him, wearing his towel.

Misganaw, "Dad, I'm brown."

Dad, "Yes, you are. What color am I?"

Misganaw, "You are peachy AND you have spots!"

(A side effect that is lingering from the boat load of Prednisone he was on this summer)

Then I was asked last night by a neighbor, "Did you hear what Misganaw said to Tom (our neighbor) at your party last week?"

I'm thinking, "Brace yourself, Laura!" This neighbor is very sweet, sort of a Santa Claus type.
Got a picture in your mind now?

She goes on, "He went up to Tom, and while poking him in the tummy said, "You (poke) must (poke) eat (poke) a lot (poke, poke!)"

The moral of the story is that you might not want to spend time with Misganaw if you have any insecurities because he's sure to point out any flaw you might have!

Have a blessed weekend!

Laura (who is peachy and short!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The countdown begins

Ok, it began months ago really but now it's getting so close. Tarikwa's court date in Ethiopia is in only 5 or 6 days from today! We've been praying that all her paperwork is in order, all T's are crossed and I's are dotted, and that the correct people show up for the court hearing. If these things don't happen, she doesn't pass and then we all continue to wait. I trust God and after all we've been through, realize that His timing is perfect in all things.

I can't help but think in 5 or 6 short days, this child will officially and legally belong to a family. Her last name will change to ours and she will be our daughter. Wow, it's really an overwhelming thought. This sweet girl, who has prayed to be a part of a family who cherishes her for way too long, soon will officially be our child. Yea!!!!!!

Speaking of Tarikwa, as we were sitting at breakfast the other morning, Blaine announces, "I think we need to repaint Tarikwa's room purple." Now you do remember that we had the house all professionally painted after the house was rebuilt. In a letter we received from her, she stated she liked the colors yellow, green and red. So we had her room painted a very pretty yellow. The last two letters we've gotten, you will remember, she said she likes "priple and blue." So Daddy's little girl is getting a "priple" room on Saturday!! Then Sunday, we'll go purchase her bedroom furniture from Ikea and spend hours and hours assembling it! So worth every second!! I told Blaine, "I think you are going to spoil this child silly!" He replied, "Yeah, it's going to be hard not to."

I'm trying to remind the family that we need to be very careful about having expectations of how she'll react to "things." It is typical that children who have never had anything, don't know how to take care of things naturally. It seems logical that if you've never had anything of your own, the first "thing" you receive, you'd take care of with great care. Not true in reality. Being careful with "things" is learned, from my experience anyway. So we don't want to give her too much until she learns this. We're still working on this with Mihiretu! Actually, he's so much better than he was:) But I agree, we all will struggle to hold back from giving her everything she's never had before. But a "priple" room, she will have.

Even though her court date is always on my mind, I have to say that I'm not nervous or stressed about it, at least at this point. God has worked everything out in terms of her joining our family and I trust that He will continue to do this. He puts the lonely in families. It's His job. It's His heart. We praise Him for blessing us with another daughter!

I had a conversation recently with someone I consider to be a godly woman. She has a very godly husband. They have one child, a freshman in college. They are loving and doting parents. She asked me about our adoption of Tarikwa, wondering how it was coming along. I told her and she said, "I sure wish we could adopt. But we're too old." I assured her they were NOT too old, at least not for a little bit older child. She said that she'd love to have a couple more but her husband wouldn't be in favor of it.

There is a lot to that conversation, I realize. I know she's not exposed to the adoption world in the way that we are and many of you are. Because of this, she can't imagine adopting a child who is not a baby or young toddler. She would want to have the child at a young age so she could mold them more effectively. I totally get that.

It made me sad and since this meeting, I've begun praying for her that God would show her His will for her life in regards to the orphan. I also took it as a bit of a challenge. Why has she never been exposed to the beauty of adoption, including older child adoption? I guess because sadly, there are so few people doing it. It makes me sad to think that people I consider very godly have not understood that the orphan and widow are at the very heart of God. He considers the care of them to be "pure and faultless religion." Pure and faultless.

Well, God has caused our paths to cross. I hope that as she and others look and observe our little family, they see that this is not only do-able, but that it is an enormous blessing.

With 147 million orphan children, we really can't afford to wait. This is an emergency. This isn't going to make me popular with some but I'm going to say it anyway. If we look at this the way it an emergency...we'd act.

Think of the Jews during the Holocaust. I have said many times, "Where were the people of God? How did they allow this to happen? People were dying. Where were the Christians?"

I'm afraid that one day, the same will be said of our generation.

In my next post, I will include ideas for those of you who are interested in caring for orphans. We all have a part to play.

Many blessings,