Monday, November 28, 2011

Zebene Levi Martine ... a little debut

Thought I'd put together a little video of our journey thus far.  It's nothing fancy ... we'll do that one later.  But for now, I think you can get a good look at our boy here.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Almost home...

Here we sit. Again. We are almost home now after 25 plus hours of traveling. One more layover in LA, one more flight to go. But we definitely all left a huge part of ourselves back in Ethiopia. As we were heading to our flight in Ethiopia Canyon informed us he didn't want to leave. He held back tears of sadness. Just as Ethiopia did to me and just as I hoped ....Africa stole a part of each of us. My kids have grown and changed so much. I have watched them laugh, love and live beyond themselves. They get it! They now have faces to marry with the statistics we all throw out about the orphan crisis. They have walked the halls of orphanages, smiled and loved children who to much of the world are forgotten. And while they were doing it ... They saw Jesus in each of them. (see Matthew... Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me) This was my greatest prayer. No dollar amount or travel glitches can measure what I saw in my kids faces as they became the living Gospel ... Sharing truth of his love by simply being him wrapped up in tennis shoes and a smile! Worth it!!! We also laughed much and grew a ton as a family. Travel trials, meeting our brother and son, court fiasco and pressures, loving on kids, fellowshiping with other families and taking in a new culture are all a part of what the Lord has used in 10 short days to show us a little more of him but also a little more about ourselves. Growth is often hard ... But so good! We also come home with a better idea of what to expect upon our arrival home with Z. Lots of transitions are to come ... But we cannot wait to start the process! I will talk more about that soon. Thank you for praying. Keep them up! We are hoping our paperwork will be submitted to the embassy soon and that we will be granted a quick approval so we can return for our embassy interview and bring our little guy HOME!!! Until then, we rest in the knowledge that he is loved by the one who can love him best!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Saying Goodbye is never easy!

Saying goodbye is never easy, but when you are leaving your 3.5 year old for an unknown amount of time ... It is horrible. Our last day with Z was fun but hard. He is a shy little guy and yet we have seen a small windows into a a big personality waiting to be uncovered. The week went so fast with him and the reality is, he really doesn't understand much of what is going on ... Including, who are these forenge's that keep showing up and smothering me in hugs. The older children, however, are an entirely different story. Today I watched as the children gathered around Yonas and were inquiring when their families were coming. For some, the news was bright ... Parents were coming and coming soon. But I also watched as one little girl sat in tears and asked why she didn't yet have a family. I watched as Yonas told her that soon God would bring her one. My heart ached and a lump filled my throat. We adore our Z and would love to say that he was broken when we left but the reality is, he is still too young to get it and too young to understand this process. Sure, he will soon understand what a family is ... But not yet. Saying goodbye was torture for us ... But honestly, I am actually relieved that he doesn't know yet what he is missing. How much harder it has been to watch those families with older kids who do get it. Words cannot describe their sadness. We wait anxiously to return so we can begin to grow as a family and watch in wonder as our Z blooms over time. But today ... Today I watched children we did understand what it means to not have a family. I watched what being chosen feels and looks like. I also saw what it looks like when you are not chosen. If I can send one plea, it would be to ask if that family is you. Is God calling you to a older child? There are many who hope so! The kids are beautiful and full of joy! They are created in his image and yurning to be loved by a family. I will say that I am so impressed by our transitional home. The Nanny's love the kids and the home is well cared for but yet, it is still not a family!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We have a SON!  It is official.  It seems the enemy is working overtime on this assignment but once again, he is defeated!

We returned to court the next day at 9:00.  We recognized many faces in the crowd as others who had also been turned away the day prior.  We had been told on that day that the judge was frustrated that people were talking.  This day, the room was absolutely silent.  Every once in a while you would see a group begin to emerge as the talkers, however, another agency rep. that my kids lovingly nicknamed "Officer Bob" would go and tell them of the previous days mishaps.  Quickly they would quiet.

After 2 plus hours of waiting we heard the name Shalom ... our orphanage.  Our rep. went in only to return with a shaking head.  We waited and waited and waited with little word of what was happening.  By 11:30 I was beginning to grow weary and disheartened.  The room was still very full and we knew the court closed without apology at 12.  We then found out that one of the files from our group of 2 had "misplaced".  We did not know which one it was, only that they could not locate it.  Our agency rep disappeared for some time.  The room began to empty and we soon found ourselves the only families waiting court with exception to one other family.  Low and behold, it seems our files had been filed under theirs and vice versa.  Once our files were safely recovered we entered the judge's court.  We found a soft spoken, well dressed, beautiful woman.  She asked us a stream of questions and then we heard from her lips "it is approved, Zebene is yours".  I could hardly believe my ears.  As I stood up, I was in disbelief.  I turned to our rep and asked "we are approved, he is ours".  Smiling, he shook his head and said "yes yes".

Both us and the other family we had grown to love, the Borges, emerged from the court as new parents again.  We were all in tears.  All the waiting and heartache and 75 hours of travel quickly became a distant memory ... Zebene Levi Martine was OFFICIALLY an orphan no more!  We have a son!

The past few days have been busy busy since.  We have enjoyed some time at another orphanage today (AHope), an orphanage for HIV+ children only.  We held babies and the kids passed out goodies.  We brought donations of crocs and visited with their program director.

Zebene is a hilarious little guy.  We have learned that he isn't a crowds man and would rather rome freely on his own.  Each day we arrive he is shy and reserved but will find one of us (Doug and I) and reach up to be held.  We love that!  I can't wait to tell him one day how whenever he would see a picture of us, he would call us a forenge (white person/foreigner).  It makes me laugh.  The Nanny's and our guides will correct him and tell him "Mommy, Daddy", and he will give his little nod of the chin and raise his eyebrows as if to say "yes" ... and soon will follow with his own version "Mommy, Daddy Forenge".

There are some points of the day that he will get very animated.  I think in those moments we see a window into his real personality.  Today, we are pretty sure he was telling Doug just how he felt about something.  He was very verbal about something while we were playing on the slide.  He had the kids and I laughing so hard.  We need to get it on video so that perhaps Yonas or Job, our guides can tell us what he is saying ... then again, do we want to know?

We know we have a long road ahead with bonding and attachment.  Communicating is harder than I had expected although I did learn today what "shint" is.  Yep, pee pee.  Got that all important point down.  I am certain that might be one of the important ones.  I think when I arrive home, I will be doing some heavy Amharic studying.

We sure love this little guy though.  He is truly a gift.  Thank you so much for praying us through court.  You know though, your assignment is far from over.  We still have embassy to clear so we can bring him home.

Well, it is getting very late here.  I know all you really want to see are pictures so I will try and post a few.  I have a few with some animated faces of our Z with his Daddy that I can't wait to post when I get home.  I haven't loaded them yet though.  But, I guess this is the big reveal.  Meet our son ..

Zebene Levi Martine

Dakota made a special friend.  I can't show her face or say her name yet as they are awaiting word that they passed court.  But let's just say, language didn't get in the way of an amazing little new friendship.  

The Borges family.  We adored this family!  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 3 and 4 ... But no court!

Hello from Ethiopia! Sorry for no posts lately, however just as everything is is the Internet. Day 3 and 4 with Z went great! We are learning more and more about our little guy. He loves his Meccena (cars). He also loves books and pointing to the pictures and telling us what he sees. I have learned he can say duck, elephant, cat, fish, count to 20, sing a precious ABC song and more. While playing a game of UNO with some of the older kids, he also pointed to the number 3 and told us what it was. He has a cautious spirit and becomes afraid of things easily. Heights don't appear to be his thing. For example, he will only climb part ways up the slide and the pauses and turns around. It is as if he is trying to find his courage. we learned when he doesn't want to do something he will shrug his little left shoulder and out his face towards it. Yes is a raise of the eyes (as all Ethiopians), he will give you 5 when you ask and well, has a smile that will light up the room! I have gotten a few sweet hugs and moments. When we arrived yesterday, he looked around at the kids and Doug with a little hesitancy and then walked to me and put out his hands to be picked up. It ended in some good cuddles. Today Doug got him in his lap listening to music (which he loves) and he sat there for a long time nestled in with him. We got to see his bed and Nanny's which was good. The older kids were all precious! I would love to put a plug for the beautiful older kids. They are precious!!!! Doug and Canyon have stirred up quite a few games of soccer. Went to court today. I was a nervous wreck. After we arrived I learned that Z's mom gave her consent four days ago. I was relieved to know that had been done but also sad we wouldn't meet her today as her court day was supposed to be with ours after her original date didn't take place. We waited for some time and then it seems for whatever reason we don't know or understand, the judgge got upset and canceled all courts. We stood outside for 2 hours in hopes of our director getting favor, but it didn't happen. They are saying we will try again tomorrow. Welcome to Africa. We are having a great time though. My kids have been amazing!!!! I can't tell you how many times they have brought me to tears. Giving a homeless man their water, making new and precious friends at the transitional home, buying things from street kids and having conversations with them and looking as though feel right at home. It has been life changing for sure! Canyon bought a soccer ball from someone one the street. He took it to the TH to play with it and it got torn up. He responded by saying that he'd only bought the ball to help the man and bless the kids. He had no intention of bringing it home. Love! If you notice this is one big paragraph, my apoologies! My iPad makes my posts weird. I also can't upload pics except on Doug's computer. Please be praying on Tuesday night your time (wednesday for us) for court. We feel the spiritual storm around us and are asking for prayers to see our way through it. It gets harder each day to leave my boy behind. Every time the van drives away, I watch I tears as they walk him down the road to his current home. Yesterday, he turned back and waved... I about lost it!! Friday will be tough, but it will be even tougher if we still lack passing court. I know many of you are living this too. So thankful we can pray one another throughout it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 2 - getting to know you

Today, being Sunday, we awoke and had the pleasure of attending the International Evangelical Church here in Addis.  It was awesome to see so many nations gathered in one place for worship.  I imagine that that was a mere small window into what it will be like in heaven as we worship in one accord.  Beautiful faces of many nations.  You can imagine my surprise then when the worship team began to sing "All praise to God", which is a song from my dearest friends Billy and Cindy Foote.  I wept.  I know their heart for the nations and I know how excited that they would be to know their songs have made it to Ethiopia.

From there, we went to lunch was delicious.  Of course, the best part of every meal is the fellowship with the other families.  We are blessed by precious families in our midst ... precious families with precious kids!

From there we went to the Transitional Home to see our Z.  When we arrived he was nowhere to be found.  We soon found out that he was out seeing a children's Exhibition and having a picnic with the social worker/staff from the older children's transitional home.  Though we were sad he wasn't yet there, to know they do such amazing things with our kids is refreshing.

Our awesome guides went looking for him and he arrived about an hour later.  I could tell he'd been having a good time.  He was also wearing an outfit we had sent him in a care package.  Love it!
He came in and was again unsure of us.  That only lasted a few minutes though as he quickly went to work playing ball and kicking us the blow up beach ball that we had on hand.

He loves to giggle and his smile is radiant.  His eyes are amazingly beautiful and expressive.
For times sake ... as we are about to leave to go to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, I wanted to post a few things we learned about our little boy today.

  1.  He is assertive.  He kept telling us "Umptuh" as he would reach for toys.  I asked Yonas our guide and he said that meant "bring it" ... in other words - give it to me.
  2. He can count .. in english .. I know to four at least
  3. He tells us "kwoss" when he wants the ball.  We soon learned that is the Amharic word for it.  duh!!
  4. He doesn't like help and is like any other 3 year old "I do it myself" ... only his eyes and his twist of the shoulders tell us so.
  5. He loves stickers
The highlight for me today was at one point when Doug was acting like he was going to get Z.  He was doing tickle fingers and saying "I'm gonna get you".  Z turned to me, put his hands up (asking me to hold him).  I grabbed him up in my arms and he held on tight like a little monkey.  As I ran away with him he giggled in delight.  
Every moment counts!  

While I can't show you photos yet our boy, I'll put a few in here of the kids.  They are doing AMAZING!  Canyon is quite in his element and has LOVED playing with the older kids at the transitional home.  Both them and he have quite the soccer skills and language is no barrier when it comes to "futball".  Dakota is doing awesome too.  She stays right by Z's side and is always telling him in English what things are.  Super fun watching my kids thrive and come alive here in Ethiopia.

Shopping at the "post office"

Having fun.  There is our boy ... 

I ran into a boy I met in February in the "post office" (shopping area).  His name is Tesfay.  We both recognized one another  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Metcha Day

We met our boy! What a day. I am not sure I can put it into words and I so wished I could share pictures but not yet. pray for that passing court! As we stood waiting for him to come through the doors and on to the porch, I thought I was going to loose it. But within seconds I saw a precious little boy come walking down a hall and on to the porch of the Transitional Home. Grabbing Job, our guides hand, he walked straight to us. As we knelt down he went right to Doug and stood solemnly quiet. Job began to tell him something and he listened intently with his eyes focused on the family who was taking pictures for us nearby. I slowly reached up and took his hand and just simply held it. What a brave boy! We moved over to a grassy area and got out a toy car. That was a big hit for sure. For a while he stood examining his car with little emotion on his face. He worked very hard to keep his eyes from meeting mine. I can only imagine what he must be thinking. After a bit, I caressed his back and tickled him a bit. It wasn't long and he flashed his first smile our way. I knew we had break through. We blew up a beach ball and began to toss it around to one another. Soon it became a game that he joined in. Taking turns he tossed it to each of us ... His choice, us in the middle. Before I knew it, we had full giggles and smiles and then we heard it "daddy". Melt our hearts! He has stolen our hearts. The day went beautifully and we couldn't be more pleased. He is so full of joy. And well, Maliah might have a run for her money in the curiosity department. Pipa, we have some work to do on a few broken child locks. I have a sneaky suspicion he will be into everything. A few things about Z we learned 1. He has the greatest smile 2. he has the most expressive eyes 3. he loves my iPhone and in particular music and turning it up and down. 4. He can point to pictures of some animals and tell you the names in English; elephant, fish, monkey, duck. 5. When I asked him "what is this" - pointing to his car- he told me the word for car in Amharic. 6. He loves to touch and explore. 7. He loves to throw balls. 8. He is cuddly to hug 9. They shaved his beautiful hair. Boo! His recent pics it had gotten long. 10. He has a sweet voice. Tomorrow, we get to see him again in the afternoon after church and lunch. It can't come soon enough!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Planes, trains, automobiles ...0h my!!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!!!!!! We are now officially in the air on our last flight into Addis.  We were supposed to be arriving on the night of the 16, however, we entered travel hell from the moment we stepped foot into the first airport.  72 hours later, two deplaning journeys, two Tarmac stand stills and 3 hotels ( with no sleep), 4 bus rides, two airport taxi's and and 27 hours in Germany  ... We should be arriving in 3 or so hours.   It will be 8:30 pm on the 18th when we arrive ... 11:30 am our time the same day.  That actually would make it 73- count them - 73 hours of traveling now.  It seems crazy to even type that! Though it would take me a full 73 hours of retelling  the story to allow you the full  pleasure of our entire experience, I will work to hit the highest points of our "joys" along the way. 1.  We boarded our first flight, were just set to take off and the captain came on to say that Houston was grounded due to storms.  0ur first hint of rough skies ahead. 2. Sat two hours in the airport and reboarded the plane once Houston cleared us to travel.  Reboarded and headed out on a Tarmac and just as we were set to depart, the captain informs us Houston is again closed.  We sit ... 1.5 hours - this time on a very hot plane, on the runway,  as we had pulled far away from the terminal. 3. Upon Houston arrival, our plane has no place to "park" so we sit again - 1 hour. 4. We missed connecting flights- all of them that would go out to Frankfurt that night we  miss.   There was no one to be found to help us through Lufthansa to see about new flights.  Apparently, from experience ... The only way to find a Lufthansa rep is to go to Germany, their hub, where you can't find anything else.   After 4.5 hours of chaos, working to find our bags and re-booking flights,  we head to a hotel for the night.  We get there and eat dinner at 10:00 pm. 5. Hotel stay 1. Houston - we sleep a little restless ... But thankful we do sleep. We awake and pray that his mercies are indeed new each morning.   6. 4:10 the next day we depart for Frankfurt, but not before we sit on the Tarmac for an extra hour. This time, a coyote on the runway.  I can't even make this up ... But we lift off and we now officially are headed international.  So thankful! 7. Flight goes well - praise!  We arrive in Frankfurt at 8:55 am on the 17 - now one day after we were supposed to have arrived in Africa.  My heart aches - I should have met "Z" by now.   8.  We went to a hotel upon arrival as we had a 14 hour layover.  Praise!  We got our first 5 hours sleep in 2 days.  Our time it is the middle of the night remember.   9. We arrive back at the airport at 4:30 pm for a 10:35 pm departure.  Remember, we don't want to take any risks.  We sit and enjoy a dinner - first real food since pizza in Houston.   10.  Ethiopia finally opens the ticket counter at 8, we are excited and are one of the first in line.  We soon discover we are nowhere in their booking system.  We literally were never re-booked as we had both confirmed and had been told.  It is way too confusing and long to explain, however, after complete panic, some tears on my part and one awesome German Lufthansa ticket lady arguing on our behalf, they finally issue us tickets.  Joy and praises abound.  Dakota declares that Jesus"s angels and the devils demons are fighting over us.  She declares in truth that the Lord always wins. 11. We get on the flight and get settled.  The plane taxi's on to the runway.  By this time it is after 10:45 pm.  We sit for a while and a few minutes after 11:00 the captain comes on to say that we have passed the 11:00 pm air curfew in Germany by ONE - ONE - let me say that again so you can feel our pain - ONE minute.  He says they now need the Gov't to give a release for us to take off. 12. We WAIT.  An hour goes by 13. The captain informs us that we are denied release into the air space  - we must deplane and go out in the morning.  Words cannot describe the frustration and confusion. 14. Ethiopia airlines shuffles 300 passengers off the plane and on to buses.  We are transported to the closest airport - 30 minutes away.  It is now 1:30am.  We have also had the pleausure of seeing just how cold it is in Germany as we await our bus outside - in the cold. 15. We arrive at a hotel and wait in a line with our new closest 300 friends for a room assignment.  This finally happens around 2:30am. During this time I visit with the captain who tells us that this law justvwent into effect on November 1 .... And every night since, this has happened.  Mental note - don't fly through Franfurt. 16. We take naps ( well, the kids do)  and get up for a pick up by the buses of 6:30 am.  As we go downstairs, we are told the flight time is moved later - we will now leave the hotel at 8:30am.  - and should depart at 10:40 am. 17.  We sit. Again.  We haven't eaten in hours. We are exhausted.  Did I mention that we are in Germany? Our TV experience to fill our time tells us so. 18. Finally the buses come and we head back to the airport.  We are shuffled like cattle back through security, go back through passport entry and finally board a plane at 10:30 am. 19. We sit for two hours on that runway before we depart.  At this point, I still couldn't believe we would actually see the "friendly skies".  You know,  we have learned that not only is it not over until the fat lady sings ... But it isn't over until your feet have touched the ground in your destination place.  Anything- I mean, anything can happen!  I am now sitting here on this last flight with 3 hours to go.  I am sitting here and amazed that we have come through so much and still have our heads in tact.  I am amazed that my two kids have traveled this hell without one complaint or tear.  And well, I will be honest ... While I know you will tell me that it is "all in his timing" or that "he is sovereign", I will never understand this trip.  I will never understand why he allowed us to miss two full days  in Africa.  Why his plan included missing two days with my son I have yet to meet.  Why my kids were drug through the ringer and a living hell.   Yes, we know it is true .... But unless you have lived this.  Unless you have walked this out.... You will never know how hard a pill that is to swallow. So, we pray now we have guides on the other end who are as anxious to meet us at the airport as we are them.  We pray that the rest of the trip can be far less eventful. Remember that I had called in some prayer warriors during my "help wanted" post.  Well, you have officially been called into overtime!  There is a battle in the heavenlies .... We you intercede? Oh did I mention the poor baby that was 2 rows ahead if us on our 10 hour flight from Houston to Frankfurt?  She screamed - I mean screamed for 7 of the 10 hours.  She had just finally fallen to sleep when the attendants came and took her bassinet away.  That poor mama still had to get to India.  Praying her next flight was more peaceful for everyone's sake.   Sorry this is so long. Update, we have arrived at our guest house. Exhausted bit thankful.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

houston, we have a problem!

The eager beavers we are, we arrived 3 hours early for our flight in San Antonio going to Houston. We didn' t want issues or delay. Better to arrive early than late. Got through security, ate some lunch and waited to board. 1:00 arrived and we boarded. Two very eager and excited kids plus two anxious parents, We were off .... Or were we? Just as we were about to leave, the engines shut down and the captain came on "Houston has a problem, a storm is coming and they have grounded all flights". Uh oh. The captain said they would be deplaning alllll of us. It would be 2 hours at least. I knew then we were in for a haul. We only had 1.5 hours in Houston before our flight to Germany left. 3 hours in Frankfurt for our flight to Ethiopia. That sounds like funny math to me. We sat ... And then were boarded again 2 hours later. Here we went, de ja vu! Or would we? Once boarded a second time, the engines came on and we taxi'd away for lift off. Or would we? Here came the captain again ... Houston is once again grounded only this time, we were stuck ... Literally, in the back of the plane with no AC. Oh my gosh it was HOT! Seriously, we entered hell. From there, it was like a remake of Steve Martin's planes, trains and automobiles. 1 we missed our flights 2 we couldn't locate bags 3 we ran from terminal to terminal with no help. 4 we finally were directed to the right helper 5 we now were stuck in Houston for a whole day 6 spent $ for a cart that wouldn't dispense from the holder 7 ten hours later, arrived in a hotel ... 3 hours from home. Um yes, we could have driven this 3 times by now. We now depart at 4:10 this afternoon. A full day later. It gets better.... We will have 13, yes 13 hour layover in Frankfurt and 2 days later than original planned, we will arrive in Addis. I think all in all we' ll be traveling around 67 hours from our original time we left. That is some serious travel hell. We are thankful for a hotel. No, they didn't comp or help. But thankful. Thankful that we WILL get there ... someday. Thankful our kids are doing great. thankful we got some sleep last night. Thankful that we have you praying. thankful his mercies are new each morning. Thankful that awaiting us is a beautiful little boy! PS sorry for typos... Doing this on an iPad. signing off from Houston and thankful that un a few long days and several planes later... That WILL say Addis Ababba! Love to all

Saturday, November 12, 2011

9 and sharing her journey

Aaaaah, it's quiet.  The only sound in my house is the worship music I have on to settle my heart and direct my thoughts.  How I successfully got 2 entire hours in my house ALONE on a Saturday could only be described as a sweet romance from the one who loves me best.   He hears your prayers.  Thank you!

I should be packing.  I should be doing a lot of things.  But the one thing that I couldn't get out of my head was the absolute sweetest and most precious writing that my 9 year old did this past week at school.  Her teacher stopped me in the hall during conferences to let me know that Dakota talked all the time of her new brother, "Z" and her up and coming trip to meet him.  She shared that Dakota had moved her to tears this week with something she had written.  In fact, she (her teacher) read it to every single one of the 4th grade classes!  That thrilled Dakota for sure!  Could it be that my 9 year old, in her own way, is sharing the heart of her Father for the fatherless.  Indeed, my beauty, even in her public school is getting to share the second Gospel ... Adoption ... in a very real and tangible way.   What a better way to share the heart of adoption than allowing them to live a little of the journey with her through her writings and by giving them a window into the adventure as she talks all about it.

I will put a picture of her writing but just in case you can't read all the words, I will put them here.

The first one has 3 separate pictures and sentences.  They read:

"Z's eyes searches frantically for us as soon as we left the orphanage.  I didn't want to leave at all, but I knew I had to.  When we left Z he was as scared as a wild horse when we left the orphanage"
Gulp.  Yeah, that one brought me to my knees.  She gets it ... even sweet Dakota knows how hard the good bye will be for all of us.

"Z's eyes were searching frantically as we pulled out toys for him out of my backpack.  As soon as we gave him the toys, he was as happy as a piece of candy".  
OK, so Candy doesn't really have feelings ... but I imagine if it did, I suspect it would be pretty darn happy.

"Z's face lit up like the fourth of July as soon as he stepped foot in America with his family.  All his friends and family couldn't believe he was finally home.  We were so happy!!!!!!!!!  Z was as happy as a dog with a bone."
Hmmm, mmmm, baby girl, you are so right.  That day will be better than the most beautiful fire work display.  I love that you compared that day to 4th of July ... freedom, a new birth, a celebration, hope ... a holiday honoring the red/white and blue and a country with promise.  How appropriate since Z will also become a citizen on that day.  I am holding on to this one, Dakota ... and dreaming with you of the day to come!  When we step off that plane after trip #2 .... YOU, my beautiful girl will be there to welcome home the brother you already met.  He will be looking for you and I am certain, as happy as a dog with a bone because he has finally found you!

The next assignment she had drawn all the members of her family.  The 6th and final box was "Z".  She had to use descriptive words and sentences to describe our hair which were all HILARIOUS!  "Z"s cracked me up though...

"Z"s hair is like curly string on a present.  He is having a celebration on his head."

Yeah, o.k. that is too cute for words.  What a perfect description of his beautiful curly locks.  My boy is a constant party.  This should be fun!  

*note that I had to blurr each time Dakota used "Z"'s full name.  We have to do this until he is officially "ours"*

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

update and a prayer

We received "Z"'s monthly update for October last week.  I've been so busy I hadn't had a chance to write about it.  Every time we receive pictures or an update, I fall more and more in love with this precious boy that I have only met through pictures and a few short minutes of video.  He is adorable!
He is described as happy, active, loveable and playful.  It says he "loves to dance when he feels free or when adults are not supervising"  HA.  It also says he is "very active to touch things".  Maliah officially has a partner in crime!  It says he is not afraid of anything that the Nanny's know of.  He is disciplined with time outs and responds well to that discipline.  And lastly, when I asked what made him laugh it said "Playing with him, dancing and music".   I have a LIVE WIRE!

I think I'll bask in those details a while.  It's so much more enjoyable than the other gazillion things in my head is filled with.

While I can't share details of my son's case ... the Lord knows them.  With that, I am asking for prayers for November 11 (the night of November 10).  It's a big day in the life of our soon to be little boy.  Please pray the Lord would work out every detail.  He knows them ... it's his plan.

This time next week we'll be Ethiopia bound.  It still feels unreal with the exception to the large piles of "Stuff" beginning to accumulate in corners of "Z"'s room.  A bunch of "Stuff" that must travel.  Pinch me.

Thank you is not enough for the prayers I have received this week.  I was sent the most beautiful prayer from a true warrior last night - at just the right time, no doubt!  I am putting it here ... because one day, when I look back at these journals, I want to see how the Lord answered all these prayers - and then some!  He started, by bringing me amazing new friends!  Thank you.

Father God,
Be their rock. Be their fortress. Be their deliver.
May Cristie and her entire family know that underneath the everlasting arms of an eternal God is their refuge and He will thrust out
the enemy from before them, and say "Destroy!" Then they shall dwell in safely in a land of flowing water, rivers, springs and an abundance of grain and blessings from Heaven.
Heavenly Father, rain on your dry lands. Rain where your living water is so desperately needed for life. Rain so that there is clean water and fresh water where there is none.
Father God, bless the Martini's with supernatural health, pockets of rest and open spaces on their calendar. Free them from all unnecessary errands, duties and obligations.
Help them discern what is distraction and grant them clarity of focus and keen minds.
Bless little "Z" with an awareness and stirring desire for them that upon being united, it will feel to all like "a longing fulfilled."
I ask right now on their behalf, that they receive abundant favor and that everything will pass through and keep moving without hiccup or delay. I ask that the purposes of heaven birthed in their hearts will be loosed in fullness over their family, their travels and "Z."
I ask that those things that would hinder, prevent, delay or cause anything to dishearten them, be bound in the name of Jesus.
Release your Angels LORD to secure the way, watch over the path, watch over them and "Z" and be ever present and near for the entirety of this journey.
Father, we ask that you give the people of the world, the type of compassion and love for your children that this family represents.
We tend to feel like we are so separated sometimes and detached from other countries and other crises, when it fact we couldn't
be more connected -- and we need to be connected to the larger Kingdom picture. Give us all a heart to pray for and help the
world. Give us Your eyes and ears to hear their cry and Your spirit to say, "I will," and Your feet and hands that "go..."
Bless sweet Maliah with courage and time that passes like sand through the hour glass - so quickly when we're not looking.
Bless Dakota and Canyon's hearts with the preparation needed for this glimpse into another culture and part of the world that they
will be able to respond to it and embrace it with the assuredness of Your presence and the absence of fear.
Give Cristie and Doug wisdom and discernment throughout the entire journey and the peace that You too are, "looking after the details."
May they feel increasingly filled with the fullness of Your spirit, the Word of Life and the power reserved for the pure in heart.
You are an awesome God, LORD.
Let all the little grievances, aggravations and irritations fade and fall away at the sound of Your great name: JESUS.
In sincere love, with thanksgiving for Your Son and this precious family and their purpose,

Monday, November 7, 2011

Crocs for Coffee - A WINNER!

WE have a WINNER and 100 reasons to say THANK YOU! 
 We have officially wrapped up our Crocs for Coffee campaign.  
Pause the music at the bottom of the website (scroll wayyy down)
THEN .. watch and see who wins!  

 to all of you who was so generous to donate crocs!!
I can't wait to deliver these and to meet many of the precious children who will receive these!  
Truly AWESOME!    

I am now trying to figure out how I'll pack the almost 100 pairs.  
HEHE ... sorry Doug that we'll have little room for clothes.  

To my winner; You get to choose between one of the 6 gift boxes from Ground to Cup Coffee.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Because inquiring minds want to know

Recently, I have had a few of the same questions from several people so I thought I'd try and take a few minutes to answer a few of those;

1.)  Who is "Z" ... and "Levi".
Yes, I have thoroughly confused you - my apologies!  Welcome to my head. HAHA. 
 "Levi" is "Z".  HUH?  Well, simply put ... we named our son before we "knew" who he was.  He didn't yet have a face, a birth date or a name.  At the time, we were awaiting our "Referral" (a match to a child).   After several weeks of the kids calling him "him" and "it" and "brother" and being totally confused, we decided as a family to name him.  It also made a way for us to pray for him and to speak of him as a real child ... because he was, we just didn't know at the time WHICH child but we are certain, the Lord knew that "Z" was Levi ... and so it's all good.   We chose the name Levi for many reasons to which you can find in some blog posts along the way.  We held that name loosely knowing he would be older and he might not want to let go of his name.  We also might love his name.  So ... guess what?  As destiny had it, we DID love his name.  When we received his referral and his NAME, we loved it from the first moment and well, so did everyone whom we have been able to share his whole name with.  With that, we have decided to name him "Z" Levi Martine.  And well, something inside me thinks there is something very important about his name given by his birth Mother who had him for quite a long time.  

2.)  Um, so is "Z" really the name?
No.  "Z" is what we call him on any public site as we are not allowed to share his name, picture and details of "who" he is until we pass court.  His name BEGINS with a "Z".

3.)  So, will you bring him home on this trip?
Unfortunately, No, we won't.  On this trip we will go to court and stand before a judge and acknowledge that we want to adopt "Z".  We will have to leave him there in Ethiopia and come home without him.  Once we do pass court, our papers will be submitted by our agency to the US Embassy where we will await them to "Clear" his case and issue a visa interview date.  Once we have secured that, we will go back to Ethiopia, have that interview with the Embassy in Addis Ababa and bring him home!

4.)  What is the timeline or when do you expect him home?
Man that is a loaded question.  First, we have to pass court on November 22.  That's our first hurdle.  It's not a small one either.  50% of cases fail court the first time.  Why you ask?  Well, that too is a loaded question.  To pass court, a family must have an approval letter from MOWCYA (the ministry of woman's, children's and youth affairs).  This letter is not written until the day of court for a family and is often missing from the file so no letter, no pass!  Sometimes, the judge will also fail a family's case if a judge sees that they would like more information on a case.  So, there are 2 scenarios.  1.)  We pass on the 22 and come home knowing "Z" is now officially our son (and you get to officially know his name and his face).  2.)  We fail court, come home and wait for the judge to issue our case a NEW court date.  We don't return for subsequent court dates, because we have done our part.  We simply await a passing one once all items are secured and cleared.
Once we do pass court, our case is then submitted to our embassy by our agency.  This can take a few weeks as they have to go back to that same ministry, MOWCYA, for another document and gather a few other items.  They said that usually takes around 2 weeks or so.  But, Embassy paperwork can only be submitted on Wednesdays for our agency so they have to wait until the next available Wed. when they have all items in order.  Once they do submit, the embassy has 10 days to review our case and give us an answer.  Here we go again, they can 1.)  find our case "Clearly Approvable" and we then proceed forth with "Embassy clearance" and receive that embassy interview date (where we travel back and bring him HOME) or 2.)  Embassy may require more information, additional documentation, or their own investigation.  This timeline is unknown.  It can take only a few extra days or several more  months.  
SO ... obviously, we're praying for that "Clearly Approvable" case and what's behind DOOR 1 in all situations.  Our agency says that typically, a family will travel back for their embassy date anytime between 5 and 12 weeks after passing court.  That's the "average" for families that they see.  

Do you see now why my stomach is in knots.  Our journey ahead is a loaded one ... full of possible twists and turns.  Thankfully, no matter what bump is in the road, we have the Lord paving a highway for us.  

5.)  Can you tell me his story?  What made him an orphan?
Well, first of all ... I can't legally share any of those details until we pass court.  But, also ... we will not be sharing much of "Z"s story as it is not OUR story to share.  We can share with you that "Z"'s birth Mom was with him for quite some time.  She is still alive and simply could no longer care for him.  Someday, "Z" might want to share the details of his story ... but respectfully, we'll let him take that stage.  

AND YES .... even this far into our journey, get this question LOTS!  

6.)  Why did you choose Ethiopia when their are so many children in the states?
I'm always amazed by this question.  My first response would be ... because He called us there.  He told us we had a son there.  We listened and obeyed.  
But, you are right .. in fact, their are 520,000 children in the foster care system in our country.  That's a lot!  TOO MANY!  I hope and pray that their are families who will step up and empty that system.  In fact, if you are one of those families interested ... I'd love to get you in touch with some awesome agencies who can help you in that endeavor.   I am a HUGE supporter of foster/domestic adoption.  We simply were not called to be that family(right now).   No, after much prayer ... the Lord led us to the "ends of the earth".   Just before Jesus left this earth, he told the disciples to be his witness in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to "the ends of the earth".  (Acts 1).  To be his witness, we are to tell those in all of those places of who he was and what he did.  We are to be Jesus to them!  Well, when I read about who Jesus was ... I see that he loved and cared for "the least of these".   When no one else would, he sat with the leper, associated with prostitutes and the downcast of the society.  Jesus loved the unlovable.  I also see that he mandated us to care for the orphan.  And of course,  Jesus also told us to take the Gospel to the world because well, we all need to be adopted ... we were all once orphans!!  He didn't say to stop in Judea when doing these things ... nope, he included the "ends of the earth" in his commands of these things.   
 Our family, through much prayer knows with great assurance that he called us to international adoption (and other means of caring for those internationally - sponsorship etc.).  As a friend once said, just because ... he did.  

Oh,  I could bog you down with a gazillion statistics that validate our decision for us in our minds.  Ethiopia is about twice the size of Texas with over 4.6 MILLION orphans.  While I don't want to downplay the need in our country, that is about 9 times the number of orphans than here.  In our country, EVERY child is given the opportunity of an education.  In Ethiopia, that isn't the case.  A family must pay for a child to attend school.  This is a luxury and 50% of children will never attend school and of those who do, 88% will never attend secondary school.  In our country, a child in the foster care system is given health care and medical insurance and .... drum roll ... a paid for college education.  Look it up, it's true!  Now, I will say, many don't utilize that but it's true - they have the chance! 
 In Ethiopia, the statistics is daunting on medical care.  The doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000.  And no, they are not being insured and provided with play therapy, speech therapy and doctors visits along the way.  So, while I am your BIGGEST cheer leader if you are one of those families the Lord has called to Judea and Samaria, I hope you will be mine and cheer me on that we were called to "the ends of the earth".  
And if that doesn't convince you,  did you know all children are children of God's.  He created them all and I am certain he would think that all of them should have families to love them and care for them!  He doesn't see a border, why should we?  My daughter was birthed in China.  My son in Ethiopia.  They are Chinese and Ethiopian.  That doesn't define them though ... that's just where the Lord began their story.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

My living room

I probably owe you an apology.  In fact,  I am sure I do.  You may not realize it though my husband would  beg to differ but recently, I have been completely absorbed and on an emotional ride that I can't get off.  This has left me grumpy, short tempered and distracted.   That probably doesn't make for a good friend.  For that, I am sorry.

One more part of the adoption journey.  One more way the Lord allows you to experience the full labor of your child - hormones!  In fact, I am certain, I have more tension, more anxiety, and more hormones raging than ever I did during either of my pregnancies.

I am a mess!

I have a gazillion things to do and yet, many moments of the day I stand in the middle of my living room motionless.  Looking around I think, I don't know where to begin.  What should I do next?

I have made a list, I have bought medicines, filled prescriptions and made more lists.  My adorable husband recently asked this past Monday "when you get a chance, maybe you could write down things we need to take and do before we leave".  As I sat at the table I wanted to spit nails at him casually answered "It's on Z's" floor.  It's been done.  grrrr .... what in the world does he think I do all day.  Eat bon bons?  No, silly ... just chocolate!

The reality is, some moments of the day I completely procrastinate by getting lost in chocolate  in other things I really can put off  need to do, in an attempt to divert my heart and my mind from the real things that must be done.  9:00 pm T.V. time has become my sanctuary.  Oh yes, I do love getting lost in mindless TV.  Pick up your chin, I still love Jesus even through that worldly hour.  I asked, he has forgiven me.

Then this week, two separate blog posts were written by two separate amazing woman.  I sat down and soaked each of them in because well, that's another way to procrastinate doing all the things I am SUPPOSED to be doing is loosing myself in "Someone else's thoughts".  

Jen, a fellow AWAA adopting Momma is talented, witty, hilarious and funny.  Every time she writes, I swear she has just climbed right out of my head.  This post  is such a raw and real reality of a family walking through adoption and the needs they have that it made me laugh and it isn't even funny.  Sometimes they don't even know they have a need other than sleep.  Most of the times ... in lieu of putting those thoughts into real words, they eat chocolate stand in the middle of their living room and wonder what to do next.
I loved this post.  Since we are at that "before airport" part ... we still have quite a haul to go.  How can you help?  Honestly, I can't even organize my thoughts enough to pack our bags.  That being said, if you ask, I might not have an answer.  I might not have a "to do".  I might not even reply because it might be embarrassing to say that I don't know.  Remember, I am eating chocolate standing motionless in the living room.  But, the fact that you asked might have just been what I needed to get my heart to the next step.  To know that I am not standing their alone might be the very thing I need in that moment!  Thank you.

Then came the second blog post.  My absolutely dearest and most precious Cindy  posted that.  She's the gal in my life that gets to be the receiver of all the times I need to back up my dump truck and dump all my chocolate.  Lucky her!  She listens and well, the spirit often speaks through her.  Imagine that, that the Lord really does use one another to refine, encourage and edify.  Hmmmm, amazing.  Last night, she sent me that post and told me that she had been writing that post for a while, but posted it yesterday with me in mind and that she was "Praying for us as the most intense part of the journey approaches".  I began to weep.  Remember, I am a mess!  It doesn't take much.  Suddenly, my living room didn't feel so lonely.  Suddenly, my closest ally was no longer chocolate.

As I sat reading her post, the Lord gave me a pretty clear picture why I am stuck.  As Cindy eloquently wrote "Maybe your emotions for your child-to-be are so heavy you can't move".  Oh man, that is so true!  My muscles are so sore.  I cannot carry this weight any longer.  Standing here, alone, I have become too weak to hold them in one more minute.

UGH, it's not pretty ... they are now oozing out into places and on to people they shouldn't.  Sorry Doug.

Yes, I have packing lists and to do's ... but I am motionless, filled with anxiety, my stomach in knots or perhaps that indigestion from too much chocolate - darn that Halloween many moments of the day.  I can't seem to be able to describe my feelings and while I have "done this before", this feels very new and very different than the journey with Maliah.  Perhaps deep down, I am already aware at how hard this will be.  The reality is, the second go around, there is no way to hide behind rose colored glasses.  No, deep down ... I know that I won't survive without that village Jen spoke of and of course HIM!  Perhaps deep down, I am so hopeful and yet so scared about our pending court date.  Right now, I sit comfortably in a place of unknown.  I don't know yet if "Z"'s case will be one of those "tricky" ones.  As I watch families around me wait to pass court and are still sitting their wondering 120 days later or I pray for friends who have had to walk the journey of not clearing embassy and watching their files be investigated ... it is daunting and deep down I secretly pray, "Lord, don't let that be my journey".  The reality is, I don't yet know if that will be our journey too and the thought of that road is overwhelming.  Perhaps with those things in mind - I am frozen in fear.  Yes, gasp, I admit it ... some moments I lack faith ... how fleshly!  Perhaps deep down inside, their is a very real reality that our long awaited "Z" will not like us much at first, will care less if we are there and will really not understand how much my heart is bursting to take him home.  That is sobering.  Perhaps the very real chance that our wait will only grow longer and longer with each new Ethiopian adoption hurdle is discouraging.  I don't know ... but what I do know is that if I put all these things together it = me + chocolate an empty living room = MOTIONLESS!

SO, if you read Jen's blog and you put up your hand to be a part of the village for an adopting family,  I do know what I need today, this minute, right now.  I need the calming peace of my savior.  I need the prayers of a warrior to get to that point.  I need the option to say "NO", I can't help you today ... I can't volunteer for the Kinder eye exam, I can't attend the birthday party, no - my child isn't doing the  second "extra credit project in a week" and that doesn't mean we are awful parents, no - I'm not packaging your coffee you ordered - the sales girl might get to do it.  GASP!, No, I can't attend the Board meeting, no, no, no.  And when I say "no", I need you to smile, say "I understand" and really mean it.  Oh, and I need you to tell me I look great ... even if I have eaten my weight in chocolate!

Hmmmm, this KitKat sure is good!

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