Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Home from Waco!

Just got home from being in Waco for the past several days with my mom, Isabella and my younger sister helping her move into her new apartment. It was a great trip just being able to get away from home for a little while and having a little "girls trip"! Isabella was so excited and couldn't stop talking about our "girl time" and how the boys were back at home. Truly funny!

So, my sister had hired movers to help with all her furniture that she had stored over the summer from her last apartment. While at the storage unit, they discovered that it had leaked and her brand new mattress had disgusting water damage! So, needless to say, we slept on air mattresses and just as things were getting a little stressful having only 3 females trying to load and unload heavy objects with a little girl underfoot, I get a phone call from Brad around 3-ish on Sunday afternoon asking which complex Brittany lived in because he wanted to show it to Elijah online. I totally fell for it and literally 10 minutes later, there was a knock on Brittany's door! After preaching that morning, Brad hopped in the car with Elijah, and took off for a 3 hour trip to Waco to help us and relieve us (since he had Monday off)! One of the many reasons I LOVE my husband!! He immediately got to work, went to bed very late and very tired, got up this morning and took BOTH kids home with him so we could do some last minute things before we left tonight for home.

So, I am home, I am tired, I am glad I went and spent some great time with just "the girls", but I am especially thankful for my husband who truly has a servant's heart and who is always thinking of what he can do to help me (and others)!

Now, I have a busy week ahead of me full of adoption paperwork to be completed!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dossier FROM China

We received our dossier back from China today and it was incredibly surreal to say the least! My stomach was in knots as I opened the Fed Ex envelope. I just kept staring at it as a thousand thoughts rushed through my head. I knew they color-coded all the different agencies as a part of their organization process of all the dossiers they receive and our old agency is a bright yellow! The cover and all over the inside of our dossier had Chinese writing on it and you could tell it had been handled quite a lot. I got a little anxious as I saw all these different numbers posted on the front of the dossier. But one item felt like it literally "jumped" off the cover...... "Family Number 1,708". What does that mean?! I let my mind wander a little as I flipped through it. Who had handled it? Did they actually read everything inside? Did they see my family pictures? How long would it have really taken to get a referral or will the program really close down as has been rumored? After some other pretty tough questions, I decided this probably wasn't the most healthy thing I could be doing with my time, so I closed it and put it on my bookshelf.

Today has been pretty emotional as I have experienced a wide range of emotions. I had already experienced these emotions when we decided to change countries, so I really didn't expect the return of our dossier to evoke such similar emotions. It really caught me off-guard.

Even though I am absolutely beyond words about my excitement and desire for my little babies in Ethiopia, I have deeply struggled with the closing of the "china chapter" in my life. Since I have been blessed with others who have experienced similar events and emotions through this process, I have seen the unexpected in this process. I have witnessed the Lord's plan perfectly unravel in ways so unforeseen by His children. What a blessing to see the demonstration of the Lord's amazing sovereignty! I know He is not only pleased with our decision, but has guided us and has put an even deeper desire and love for our children waiting for us in Ethiopia right now. I am comforted by that assurance. Only the Lord knows if China will resurface in our future, but we do know that we are learning to depend totally on Him. Follow Him, Trust Him, Obey Him. The Lord may never completely reveal to us His plan for every step of this journey, but we are thankful for and confident in the sufficiency of scripture along with the Holy Spirit to guide us.

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” -Psalms 139:9-10

Monday, July 23, 2007

Counting our blessings

We took Isabella and Elijah to the doctor today so she could fill out their medical forms. It was pretty uneventful unless you count Elijah screaming as we walked back with the nurse to our room. Both of the kids really LOVE their pediatrician and she is truly wonderful with them and actually has kids their age, but for some reason, he thought he was going to get a shot. We quickly assured him their would be no shots today and he calmed down (well, and after we bribed him with an ICEE for good behavior!). She breezed through the forms as she knows the "drill" since she and her husband are in the process of adopting a little girl from China! We are really blessed to have such a knowledgeable and wonderful Christian doctor for our children whom we share the passion for adoption! One more way the Lord is providing for us! There are too many ways to count!

In other news, our old agency emailed us today telling us that they have Fed Exed to us our dossier they received back from China! It only took one month...record time! We are hopeful we will be able to use at least some of the documents from our dossier!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Circus of Dreams...

....was not so dreamy. While we were away, my parents kept my niece and nephew to give my brother and my sister-in-law some "downtime". Then last night, we all met up to watch the circus. It was advertized as "spectacular entertainment!" but we knew it was time to go when the kids all started saying they wanted to go home! Before the circus started, Brad and the kids and I all went to the floor to see some of the animals and meet some of the entertainers. I kept calling this clown a "she" by saying things like, "Oh look! Isn't she a cute clown?! Let's get her picture!" until I realized "she" was really a short man clown. You can tell in this picture that Elijah wasn't too thrilled! Needless to say, no one at the circus seemed too amused at any of the performances. The only time we seemed to get a smile out of any of the kids was when Poppy and Brad made a food run for everyone!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Vacation-Part 2

The beach is not Brad's favorite place to go....EVER! But since our kids seem to really love it, we took them there while in Galveston. But the best part about it this year, was that the particular beach we went to was totally quiet with absolutely NO ONE except us! It probably had sometehing to do with the fact that we went at 10:00am and it was extremely overcast and windy. In fact, we were only there for about an hour, if that long, and as we drove back to our hotel, the sky turned dark grey and it poured down rain for the remainder of the day. So, Brad and I learned something.....go to the beach when it is overcast and you won't have to contend with crowds and sunburns!

The kids were so excited to be back at the beach, they didn't even notice that we were the only ones there!
He is just so cute and so excited to get on the beach and even has his little sunglasses when there is no sun! Isabella is so thrilled she decided to stop for a few poses:She was just walking so sassy, I couldn't help but capture it on film!
Running to catch the waves!Since I was taking pictures, Brad took the kids out in the water one at a time because it was really windy and the waves were crashing down really hard! So, while one was out with Daddy, the other stay behind and played in the sand.
Isabella nicely dug sand up and gently placed the sand into the bucket and then moved to another spot and drew pictures in the sand. Elijah intensely thrust his shovel into the sand and violently threw it over his head with all his might while letting out a loud groan only heard from professional weight lifters! He never tired of this activity....always trying to throw the sand higher! It was hysterical!
I think the water and the huge waves were more fun to them than anything else!Brad dug a huge hole for Elijah to lay in while we all buried him in the sand! He was a little unsure at first, but then absolutely loved it when Daddy wrote his name in the sand on top of him! We went to grab a bite for lunch, let the kids nap at the hotel room, went to the Aquarium again and then went for an early dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. The kids loved it and chimed in with all the animals when they made all their sounds. I thought this little white fish with black spots was so cute! We all had a really great time and hope to go back real soon!

Vacation!-Part 1

Recently, someone so graciously gave Brad a gift card for a specific vacation that we could choose amongst several different locations. Moody Gardens was one of the places they offered and since it was close to us and we didn't have to buy plane tickets, we thought it was perfect for us! Brad was able to take some much needed time off for a couple of days, so we decided to just spend two days and nights at Moody Gardens in Galveston. This was the 1st vacation we have taken being just our little family. So, we drove down to Galveston and checked into our room which had a balcony that the kids absolutely loved! The kids were so excited it was like they had never seen a bed before!!

The Moody Gardens Hotel is really nice and surprisingly caters to your children as they have bags stuffed with all kinds of little things for kids like bubbles, activity pads, little stuffed animal, etc. They also have crafts for them, sports times, face painting and a huge inflatable bounce house with a slide that Isabella and Elijah practically lived for!
Isabella wanted a butterfly but the lady only had time to half of the butterfly!
Elijah wanted to be a leopard and he walked around the rest of the day growling at everyone!

Elijah begged to go see the dinosaur movie so he could wear the "funny" glasses......
....and right after this picture was taken, he began screaming for a straight 30 minutes! Before the 15 minute movie even started, he started screaming saying he was scared and tried to run OUT of the pitch black theater! I grabbed him as he was running by me and held him and he had his arms, head and legs wrapped so tightly around me, I now know what it feels like to be strangled by an octopus! We were happy to hear other children screaming too so the attention wasn't entirely on us and there was a screaming mass exodus out of the theater! So Elijah is now scarred for life and we are probably banned from the 4D movies at Moody Gardens!

We decided to move on to the dinosaur exhibit that we were told was very tame (or did they same "lame"?) but Elijah was still a little rattled as you can see in this picture:
I LOVE his face in this picture! The T-Rex above them was growling and smoke blowing out of its nose and Elijah was a little nervous that it was going to come off it's platform.

Then we went to The Aquarium and this quickly became their absolute favorite thing to do while we were there! We went back twice since we had unlimited tickets!
Where we saw all these cute little penguins........this very ferocious-looking shark that Elijah was mesmerized by......
...and this very large seal or seal lion that kept swimming in circles and rubbing his back against the glass! We then ended our day on the Strand. We ate dinner, went for ice cream, and then took a carriage ride which the kids thought was so great except for Isabella holding her nose the whole ride because she said the horse was "stinky"!
So cute! A little table just their size! The next post will be about us going to the beach....stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Abi's Journey Home

Here is a video of a family traveling to Ethiopia to get their little girl, Abi:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Father's Day 2007

Ever since Brad has been a father, Isabella and Elijah have always been really too little to express why they love Daddy, so I would write little notes to him "from them" and we would all shout (or babble) "Happy Father's Day!" and call it a day. This year, however, the kids were truly able to tell him really why they loved him and why they were thankful for Daddy. Here are some of the things they said:

Isabella said:

  • He prays with me every night
  • He makes us sausage, eggs and biscuits on Saturday morning
  • He always hugs me
  • Sometimes when we go to the store, he buys me surprises
  • He chases me
  • He reads us stories
  • He loves me the best

Elijah said:

  • I love Daddy because he's so much fun
  • Daddy tickles me
  • Daddy goes on walks with me
  • Daddy plays with my trains with me
  • Daddy loves me and he is good!

And of course, we took our Father's Day picture with Daddy's hand holding the kids' hands so we could see them grow throughout the years and we place it in our special Father's Day Traditions Album! We also started a new tradition this year! We went to the fabric store and let the kids pick out a special fabric they wanted that reminded them of Daddy. We then got some fabric paint and painted the kids hands and made handprints on their special fabric square. We will keep collecting these through the years until we have enough to make Daddy a "Daddy-sized quilt"! Shhhhhhh! Don't tell Daddy!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Lord's Provision

Today, we mailed Gladney's International Adoption Application back to them and have been pretty stressed knowing that we needed to send close to $1600 with the application. There are still a few papers trailing behind that need to be completed, so we have just been praying that the Lord would provide the funds we needed when the time came. We are totally overjoyed today because I just received an email from our old agency stating that they have just sent us a refund check for our post-placement fee we paid about a year ago! The refund check is for $1700 which is just a little over $100 more than we needed to send to Gladney!!!

"The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you." Psalm 116:5&7

Words cannot express the gratitude in our hearts today! I do not know why I continue to worry over things when He is continually faithful time and time again. I do not know why I am continually shocked when He demonstrates His love to us time and time again. From the very beginning of this adoption journey, He has provided for us in every single area of our life and has been our constant Companion. He is our Guide, our Comforter, our Provision, our Sustainer of Life! He is with us!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Home Study Headache!

For the past several weeks, both agencies have been trying to figure out exactly what needs to be done regarding our home study. Both agencies were discussing whether we just needed an addendum or a re-evaluation (which is, of course, more extensive, more time, more money). We were told originally that we only need an addendum in which we already paid the $200 fee to our old agency.

Well, we figured out today that after much talk between the two agencies, that the word "addendum" means two different things with each agency. So, really what we need is a home study re-evalutation. Basically, what that means is that we have to have another home visit from our social worker (instead of using the phone interview we already had), our home study must be rewritten and instead of the $200 fee, we must pay $550. So, now we feel like we are starting over a little bit and are a little anxious. However, both agencies have sent us their "re-evaluation" guidelines and have promised that we will be able to get through this quickly!

Since we are still using are original social worker from our old agency (because we LOVE her!!), both agencies must be involved with this Home Study "step" so it is a little more work. I am so pleased that everyone involved are truly wanting to be the most efficient to bring home these children as soon as possible!!

Oh, and we will be sending out our reference letters in the mail tomorrow and are so thankful to those who are taking the time to fill them out for us!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

"I can make you 2 guarantees.."

We just received our Ethiopian Manual sent by Gladney that has the process explained through a chart, and includes the Ethiopia Program fees and highlights to inform adoptive parents. It also includes a step by step guide how to prepare our dossier and important contact information. But the Perspective page shed great insight and proved encouraging for us as it stated:

You are about to embark upon the most frustrating, challenging, and ultimately rewarding experience of your life. I can make you two guarantees:
  1. If you stick through the frustrations and possible changes, we will find you the child(ren) that is meant to be a part of your family.
  2. You will not be happy with this process until your child(ren) has/have come home.

The most important thing that you can do is to keep your eyes focused on the goal.

If you remember that the goal is to bring a child(ren) into your home, then the small frustrations will ultimately seems just that - small.

Talk with families who have been placed through Gladney, go to Gladney Family Association meetings, and surround yourselves with people who truly understand what it is like to adopt internationally. The loss of control you will feel in this process is like no other you will ever know and like no one else can understand, unless they have been where you are now.

Most of all, do your best to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And when you worry and become frustrated with the paperwork or the wait or the many number of little details involved in adopting from Ethiopia, remember to be thankful that you have the opportunity to worry about the small problems, because that means someone else is worrying about the big ones for you.

Let the journey begin!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy July 4th!

This afternoon, the kids and I went for a walk and decided to "pop" their own fireworks! I bought these little "poppers" that when you pull the string, confetti pops out. So since it was so hot and humid, once again, we hid under a low branch of a tree and popped our poppers! The kids loved seeing all the confetti all over the place. Then, it was over and time to go home. Short, sweet, and just how I like July 4th!

Hiding in the branches:
Popping our little poppers:Sweet picture: