Saturday, February 26, 2011

Guest post

A blog friend asked me a few weeks ago to do a guest post on her adoption blog. It is up and running today so I though I'd give you the link. She's almost at the end of a weeklong series on adopting older children, which is why she asked me to contribute.

There is the link. Do read back on her blog several days as she has other guest posters telling their stories. It's been a blessing reading them. You will enjoy them, too!

Have a blessed weekend!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This and that

Just a little update to say we had a wonderful Valentine's Day at our home. We took steaks out of the freezer, set the table with red candles and red tulips, turned the lights down and enjoyed each others' company. We took the opportunity to celebrate Aliya's 'gotcha day' also and had 8 huge chocolate cupcakes for dessert.

The Federal Government must also have felt especially loving since Window 11 guy arranged it so Aliya's Soci*l Sec. card arrived on Valentine's Day! How thoughtful is that? I think he must be trying to make it up to me for all the problems! One more reason to celebrate;)

Another HUGE thing we have recently celebrated is that the entire fire paperwork is done! Yes, it took us almost 2 years to finish it but finished it is! If that isn't great enough, the insurance company gave us the entire amount we sent questions asked or hassles given. Really, this is a blessing to us and we didn't expect it. If you need a GREAT insurance company, check out Travelers. They have been really good to deal with and very fair with us.

I do have to go on record and say how thankful I am for my sweetie. Blaine is a husband who knows me and understands me. His ear is always listening to God's heart. When he hears God's voice, he listens. I'm very excited to have him visit Korah this year when we go. Can't wait to see what God shows him there.

I'm sure thankful that God made him for me.

We *may* have some wonderful friends who just *may* join us on our trip to Ethiopia. This couple is also celebrating their 25th anniversary. When we originally told them we were going, they discussed it and commented that visiting a leper colony for one's 25th anniversary would be a very weird thing to do, but since it was us, it seemed pretty normal:) I love it:) Anyway, they are praying about it and seriously considering joining us. How WONDERFUL is that???
I guess they are just as WEIRD as us now!

Oh, one more thing. Our oldest birdie is leaving the next in 2 short days. He closes on his house on Friday and even though he won't have water until early the next week, he is going to move in and begin working on it. Do you think he is in a hurry to get away from us?? We will miss our boy. He is our first to leave the next for us. Pray for all of us:)


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A year ago this week...

I accidentally put these out of order...sorry! It is so hard for me to believe that it has only been one year since we were in Korah. So much has happened since then. It feels more like 2 years ago we were for the first time. Visiting there has change our families life for the better.

What a personality this man has! Leprosy has left him a begger.

A typical home in Korah...Pastor Antonay leading the way.

It is also the one year anniversary of Aliya joining our family. This seems completely unbelievable to us. I love this picture of her.

Aliya at Layla House standing in front of her bed.

If you look at this girl marching off the airplane, so full of confidence and boldness, ready to meet her dad, brothers, grandmas, aunts, uncles and cousins, you will know the teenager we live with today:) Independent!

First hug with Dad? Looks like she's known him her whole life.

Not the slightest bit nervous.


This past year has been yet another faith building and stretching year for me. Who said adopting a 14 year old would be easy?? No one! We have learned a lot together in the process of growing together as a family.

We are and will continue to learn to trust one another. Even when you've been independent (and you can visually see that in the above pics!) you still need a mom and dad to instruct you and set boundaries. Ooh, this is a hard one!

I really cannot imagine experiencing as a young girl all the loss and changes this child has experienced. When she tells me about how she came to the orphanage, the decisions she had to make, the responsibility she shouldered...I am in absolute AWE of her.

I hope I'm not betraying anything she's told me by saying this but this really blows me away. At about age 13, she made the decision to come to the orphanage and take a chance on getting a family. SHE made that decision by HERSELF. Can you imagine being 13 and deciding to go to the big city - 5 hours away from the town where you lived to a place where you knew no one, didn't have any idea what they'd do to you when you got there, had no idea if a family would choose you, and then had no idea if they did choose you what kind of people they would be?? That is total faith. She felt like God wanted her to go there so she did.

I am so thankful God led us to her. Her faith was rewarded. God brought us together in His own amazing way. Only He could have orchestrated all of this: the timing of everything, how we were relentless even after our house fire when everyone told us to put the adoption on hold...too much stress (which it was!) but we felt God pushing us to press on. If we had taken that break and put the adoption on hold until we moved back into our house, she would have been very close to aging out with the 6 other girls and would never had the chance to have a family. To say it was a tough summer that year would be the understatement of the century! But...what if we didn't trust and listen to God? I shudder to think.

Every step, He sustained us and gave us the strength to go on. We would need that experience for when she came home.

We are thankful for our newest daughter. She is a blessing and will do big things in this world. She challenges us, frustrates us, inspires us, makes us laugh and makes us cry.

To think of where she's come from in one short year boggles my mind. From speaking very little English to the A honor roll at school. From eating with her fingers to eating with her fingers less;) From being an orphan to having a family. Even though we have a ways to go, much progress has been made.

Aliya, we love you and are glad you are with us.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Didn't want to bring this up but...

A few days after I was at the S*cial Security office (for the second time), I received a letter stating:

"We cannot issue a S*cial Security card at this time because:

The Dept. of H*meland Security is unable to verify the immigrant document you submitted as evidence of your lawful alien status. You should contact that agency to clarify your immigrant status. YOU NEED TO UPDATE THE NAME WITH THE DEPT. OF H*MELAND SECURITY.

Please contact us when:

You can give us the documents we need."

Seriously???? Oh, my gosh!

I called immediately and explained and re-explained why this would not be necessary. Aliya is a citizen and became one when we readopted her here. Secondly, on the adoption paperwork from the court it has all of her alias' on it.

No I do not want to just bring her down again and have someone review my paperwork. I don't want to take her out of school again.

And no, I do not need to update her green card since she is a US citizen!

Just look at the alias' and you will see that even though her green card says one name and she goes by a different name now, they are all her alias' there! It's all legal.

She was going to look into it and call me back. She didn't.

I called again today and re-explained the situation to a very overwhelmed and overworked woman who also told me she'd check into it and call me back.

I didn't hold my breath.

We went out for dinner and when we got back, guess what? Window 11 man himself was on my answering machine!

He told me he processed her application and we will receive her social sec. card in a couple weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!! They did it!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't have to go back down there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you, God!!

Thank you, Window 11 guy for calling me back and getting it done!!

I am happy.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Why did we adopt - part 2

I knew that adoption would bring stress, good and bad, and I simply was not up for it.

Katie later came to me later that day and said, "Mom, I really don't understand why you and Dad don't adopt. We have a great family. We have a big enough house. We have enough love.

I replied, "Katie, you have no idea what it takes to raise children. It's a lot of work and commitment. I just started on a walking program with my friend. We just bought a boat. We just got to take you kids to Cabo San Lucas. Children require a lot of money. People with lots of children can't do all these things."

Mom, we're talking about kids with no family and no home." And then the clincher, "And how do you know that this is the only chance this child will hear about Jesus and one day go to heaven, all because you adopted him."

Oh, stab me in the heart!

I told her that everything she was thinking and saying was 100% correct. But I also told her that as a potential mother to this child, my heart had to be in it. I had to want it and I didn't anymore. The stress of the past several months had taken so much out of me.

We began talking with friends about taking a cruise with them. Boy, if anyone deserved it, it was us! A cruise it was.

Just a few weeks later, it happened. I had a dream.

In my dream, I am on a cruise to Addis Ababa, Africa. I'm shopping in the outdoor market, my arms full of bags. I'm alone but having the time of my life. Then I realize that I forgot what time to get back onto the ship. Finally, I find an English speaking man on the beach and ask him. He tells me he's in a hurry and runs off towards a small boat. I then realize he's going back to the cruise ship, as well. I then put my hands down and take the hands of two children. I never see them but I tell them, "Come on you guys, we have to go now!" That is the end.

When I awoke the next morning, I immediately told Blaine about this dream. I just thought it was so weird. Addis Ababa, Africa? What was that? Why did I remember that name so clearly?

Blaine asked me if there was a place called Addis Ababa and I told him that I had heard of it but it was probably in Saudi Arabia or Iraq and possibly I'd heard about if from the war. It was late March, 2006. I also told Katie and Blake that morning and I told Lisa, my friend who we were planning the cruise with.

The dream didn't mean anything to me at the time. It was just so clear and striking.

A couple weeks later, we found ourselves at the funeral of Blaine's grandma. At the luncheon afterward, a woman was showing the pictures of her adopted grandchildren. Blaine stood behind me, looking at the pictures and commented, "They are beautiful!" Then he leaned down and whispered in my ear, "Get the name of their adoption agency."

WHAT? I almost fell off my chair.

We talked about it the entire drive home and I realized that my husband was serious about this.

Less than a year ago, he had said that adoption could ruin our perfect family. What had changed?

It was the accident. He said that he realized that life was short and precious. He learned that it was not all about us and how early we could retire and have 'us' time. It was about eternity and how we could effect it.

Wow. Ok. I'm on board now. If this is where the Lord has led my husband, I was now listening.

As soon as we arrived home, I called my friend...the one with the cute little 4 year old who sat across the table from Blaine just a week before. She knew about adoption and was the only one I knew who could help me.

She was of course excited when I told her how serious Blaine was about this. We talked, she gave me phone numbers and details but then I remembered something. Each of her 3 adopted children came to their family at the age of 3 weeks old. I quickly told her that I really was interested in adopting an older child. Blake and Katie were 16 and 14 years old. I just couldn't handle a tiny baby at this stage of our lives.

"Oh, if it is an older child you are thinking about, you need to check out Adoption Advocates. I've had them on my favorites for years. They do a great job with the kids. They do adoptions in Ethiopia."

I'm thinking, "ETHIOPIA?? Huh??"

She gave me their website and told me to check them out, telling me that these kids were loved and wanted but for various reasons, their biological parents couldn't parent them. I told her that we were leaning more towards domestic adoption and thanked her for the information.

By then it was 10:00pm and Blaine was getting ready for bed. I stopped off in the office to check out this website quickly.

I can honestly tell you that if I'd ever seen an Ethiopian person before, I didn't know it. I wasn't even sure what they looked like, other than they had brown skin. Now I could pick out the Ethiopian person in a crowd! They have a very distinct look. But then I had no idea!

I read about Ethiopia on this website, looked a the pictures and read a little about the orphanage they ran. Paraphrasing, it said, "AAI facilitates adoptions between children and American parents. Located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia..."

There it dream!

I called Blaine in and had him read it. He remembered, as well. We both agreed that God wanted us to do something with Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa...wherever that was!

We went to bed, silent for a while, while trying to take it all in. What did God want from us? Clearly, He was telling us something.

I told Blaine that I didn't want to be like Jonah from the Bible. God clearly told him to go to Ninevah and he didn't really want to go, so he went the other direction. Well, we all know what happened with Jonah. He got swallowed up by a fish who God directed to take him to Ninevah and spit him out there. Not so pleasant. I didn't want to disobey God they way Jonah did.

So we decided to pray every day until God gave us confirmation about what he wanted us to do. The very next day, it started.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why did we adopt?

This is going to be an old story to many of you who know us well but for the sake of some people who are newer to reading this blog and haven't heard it, I thought it was high time for a revisit. Actually, I don't know if I've ever shared it on this blog before...hmmmm.

This is going to be long...maybe 7 or 8 installments. I'm going to include all the pertinent info and am going way back to 2005 so it all makes sense. As you read, just watch and see the faithfulness of God who still speaks to us today as He did in the Bible.

Here it is how it all began:

Katie (my 18 year old), then 13 and I began dreaming of adopting a little boy just like her little cousin, Benjamin who came by way of adoption from Colombia. We spoke with Blaine about it and he *seemed* to think it was a good idea so I did some research but when it came time to plunk down some home study money, he decided it wasn't such a good idea. "We have a perfect family right now. Why would we take the chance and ruin it?" Just being real here. Those were his feelings at the time. So we have up on the adoption.

A couple months later, Blaine and his dad (who worked together) were on the side of a highway, checking out some of their property when a woman who was distracted by a bee in her car, swerved off the highway and struck my father in law's truck. Marv was standing at the back of the truck and was killed instantly. Blaine was on the side of the truck and was thrown into the air and landed in the ditch by the highway. As you can imagine, this was extremely traumatic to the family...the loss was enormous.

Blaine was rushed to the trauma center. He had a severely broken femur, broken neck and half of his face was broken to pieces. He spent 2 entire days in surgery repairing the femur and mending his face together with metal plates.

It took him months to recover but on Christmas Eve that year, he walked across the room, unaided by a walker or crutches. What a gift that was! He did it for his mom.

Three months later in March, we went to lunch at a friends house. Dan had experienced a similar horrific accident a few years before and was offering support to Blaine and us. I always loved and admired this family. Their oldest son and Blake were great friends. They were in the same home school co-op as we were. They had 2 biological children and had adopted 3 black American children. This had always intrigued me and seriously impressed me!

Well, that Sunday after church we went to lunch at the Clark's house. Blaine sat across the table from their 4 year old son, Isaiah. I watched that day as Blaine's heart melted for that boy.

As we got in the car to leave, he commented on Isaiah's cuteness. I agreed and off-handedly said, "We should have a little one like that." I didn't really mean it, not at all. It was just a not-thought-through comment. But he replied, "Yeah, we should."

All I could think is, "He didn't just hear what I said or he NEVER would have responded like that."

When we got home, I started doing dishes and began wondering where Blaine and Katie were. I found them in the office looking at waiting children on the computer! What??

At this point, I am NOT INTERESTED! After the past 6 month we just came through, the very last thing I needed was more stress. Do not even go there!

Our 4 year anniversary-looking back

Four years ago today, we made this walk from our guest home to the care center where our boys were lovingly being taken care of. I remember thinking how surreal this was at the time. In the light colored building, we would meet our 2 new just a few MINUTES!!! We don't have video of this so I have to rely on my memory for this but as we walked up to the gate and the children saw us coming, they began yelling, "Mihiretu...mama...daddy! Mama..daddy!!
We walked through the gate and spotted him in his bright orange shirt. Blaine knelt down and instantly Mihiretu came close and leaned into Blaine and put his arm around him.

So. Sweet.

This is the first picture we took of Mihiretu. Look how TINY he is!! Tiny is not a word that can be used to describe this kid today!! We brought toy cars and a flashlight to use to play with him when we met. He spoke no English and we spoke no Amharic but we managed to get to know each other through play. We began building trust but passing the car to him and he'd pass it back.

This is the first picture I have with Misganaw and the first time I held him. He refused to look at me and all of us until we took him off the grounds of the care center. I can't even imagine what this little guy was thinking. I can hardly believe I'm the mother of a baby again!! That's what I'm thinking.

This was one of Misganaw's nanny's at the care center. She loved him so much and had a very hard time letting him go. I had to comfort her through her heart broke for her. I'm so happy they love the children the way they do.

Taking it ALL in here. We could tell immediately that the boys loved each other very much. Mihiretu was a pro at carrying his little brother around, as small as he was then.

Masse (the man who ran the guest home then) and tiny Mihiretu.

Mihiretu eating double fisted in Dulles in the Delta Club. We could see we had some work to do on his manners:)

A weary dad holding his new baby. Misganaw still looks dazed but it didn't take long for our wonderful bond to form with both boys.

This is my memory lane today.

I still cannot believe God saw us fit to parent these two precious boys! Often times, I say in my head, "I am the MOST blessed mom in the world." These boys have brought such life and laughter into our family. They have taught us so much about unconditional love and resiliency.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being a 45 year old mom of a pre-schooler. I love his hugs, his 100 I love you's a day and all the funny things he says. On the way home from pre-school today, I asked him, "Do you know how much fun it is to be your mommy?" I told him it is a LOT of fun. He proceeded to tell me, "If I was your mommy and you were the little kid, I would let you have as much candy every day as you want!" Interpreted...he loves me so much!

I love watching Mihiretu grow. I love watching him learn to read, make friends and memorize Bible verses. He's so excited that today is his 'gotcha day' (the day we 'got' them) because he knows there will be a special treat after dinner tonight. What he doesn't know is that there will also be a special treat before dinner, too! The other night he hugged me and told me, "Mom, you and my mommy in Ethiopia are the BEST mommies in the world!" I told him, "Thank you! Your Ethiopian mommy loves you very much and she was a wonderful mommy to you and Misganaw."

Soon, I will write about why we adopted in the first place. If you don't know the story, it is a miraculous one that only God could have orchestrated! Can't wait to revisit it.

If God is tugging on your heart about adoption...LISTEN. You could be missing the biggest blessing imaginable.


Misganaw's thoughts on 'family'

On the way home from church last night, Misganaw in a very impassioned voice says, "Mom, Blake, Katie and De are part of our family."

Then Mihiretu started talking and so I just let Misganaw's comment pass.

But then he repeated it, louder and with more passion, "MOM, Blake...Katie...and De are part of our family!"

I replied, "Yes, that's right, Misganaw."

He continued, "And family does NOT put out family!"

Then I realized what he had obviously been thinking about. Blake is in the process of buying a house and it looks like he'll be moving out yet this month. Misganaw thinks we are putting him out. Katie and De are getting married in June and have been house shopping, as well. He thinks we are putting them out.

I explained to him that we love Blake, Katie and De but they *want* to move out and start a home of their own. I asked him if he was sad about this. He said, "Yes, it's just not nice. We are family and we love each other."


Later today, I will post another walk down memory lane from 4 years ago.

I think my pre-schooler has a pretty good understanding about 'family.' Don't you?


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My baby is 21

I'm taking a walk down memory lane. My oldest is 21 today! How did that happen? I love this picture of the 2 of us. Blake looks about 11 to me here. I look about 11, too! Ugh...

A little out of order but for educational purposes: this is Blake with Lyme's Disease. See the bullseye spots all over his back? Only one deer tick bit him and it caused several spots. He was one sick kid.

I'm guessing he's about 13 here, maybe 14.

The first band he was in...UPS.

Blake's graduation picture. So handsome!

Blake when he was in Weaver at the Loom. Fun times!

In Korah at Great Hope Church leading worship.

Blake with beautiful Korah girls!

More pretty girls...

I'm just a little nostalgic this week. So many memories to think about. If you can't tell, my baby turning 21 is a biggie for me. It's fun to look back, remember and see where God has brought my son. He's faced some challenges (of course, being in this family you can imagine!)

We love him with all our hearts and are excited to see what God has for him in his future!

In a couple days, I will take another walk down memory lane going back 4 years...can you guess?