Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nope, negative, nuh huh.

Not today.  Today's not our embassy submission date.  It is confirmed.  We have been notified that they are still collecting post court documents for our little guy and will notify us when they have all been collected.  Praying next week ... December, 28 WILL be our day.  Perhaps 5 weeks will be our time.  

One picture says so much

I love this picture .. and all the things it says.
Yes, my sweet boy, that is YOUR bed!  Mommy can't wait to tuck you in each night, kiss you and hug you and pray over you.  One day, my sweet boy, you will be home ... and you will NEVER go to bed without these things.  One day soon.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sweet sentiments

Today was a good day!  How could it not be when a Momma receives two beautiful messages AND photos of her son 8,000 miles away.  It is GOOD ... HE is good!

My first sweet sentiment came from a fellow adopting Momma who is at the transitional home right now. The sweetest part of this note is that it was unexpected.  I didn't even ask for this sweet family to bless me ... and yet, they did!  I tell ya, it's the little things you do that can brighten a day ... and today, Margaret brightened mine!  This is what she sent me ... allll the way from Ethiopia.  Margaret, thank you for being Jesus to me today.  Your note was like his personal hug!  Thank you Thank you!

Today we did care packages.  Our court date is tomorrow and are doing much with the family Mowen and Tara delivered your care package today.  (I also follow you blog).  Anyway, the point of this email is to tell you that your son Z, Levi, is simply precious.  He took a liking to my husband and sat with him for some time reading books and drawing.  He was so excited about his care package as well.  He carried it around with him everywhere he went, emptied it and put it back together several times.  He went through the photo album with my husband and pointed at people.  He loved, loved the stickers as well.  He wore about two whole packages by the end of the afternoon.  He has a sweet smile and very warm spirit  and my husband says was making faces and just overall very friendly.  My husband says he was quite impressed with his language skills as well- one of the books was animals and he knew them all, even butterfly, which is not a typical one. :) 
We just wanted to share this with you to make you smile. 
 May your embassy date come quickly, but until then, may it be stories like this that make the wait a bit easier. 

The second sweet sentiment came from fellow adopting Momma, Tara.  We had sent a care package with her for our Zebene and a photo release.  We were also blessed to have met her two boys while we were in country with Zebene.  I got to help give them her care packages she sent with another family and take some pictures of her sweeties.  Today, she more than re-payed that favor.
First, I got a sweet sweet note in my in-box.  THEN ... this afternoon, a slew of e-mails began arriving with pictures.  Tara did such an awesome job with pictures that my in-box actually went over quota and began bouncing them back to her.  We successfully got 12 of the pictures she sent ... but seriously ... there are MORE!  
This was our note from Tara;

We loved loved loved your son! He is a doll! He loved posing for pictures and made my job easy! I took tons!! We are about to go to Traditional Dinner, But I will try to email them when I get home if I get your email. He said Mom and Dad at your photos and loved looking at each one. He got excited about Ashenafi's picture in there too. About an hour later I saw him on the porch 
looking at your bag again, so sweet!

Indeed, the America World adoption community is the best and today, I was on the receiving end of some awesome blessings.  Thank you ladies for making this Momma smile.  Now, how about some pictures to make YOU smile!

I'm not about to put my goodies down.  No way, uh uh.  
Do you like my stickers?

Yes, that is my family and they ADORE ME!

I love how he is pointing out Canyon and Ashenafi.  

I cannot get enough of those eyes and that smile!  COME ON EMBASSY!

Monday, December 19, 2011

His time ... His sovereignty.

As I write the title of this post, I do so with a big ol' gritting of the teeth.  *grin and bare it* SIGH!   I try to smile through it.  I know it is true.  His timing, it's sovereign.  He knows every day.  He knows every detail.  He knows the why's, the how's and the WHEN's.  So we trust ... even if sometimes trust comes with a big  small two year old tantrum first.

So, this morning I e-mailed our travel coordinator for our adoption (our agency) as I have become aware that the Embassy is requesting a birth parent interview from EVERY birth parent that is involved in a case.  This is us.  This is a part of our story.  Our little boy's birth Mom is alive and well and yes, a very much a part of this story.  So this will indeed effect us.

We are currently waiting to be "Submitted".  It can only be done on Wednesdays and most recently it is taking around 4 weeks from the passing of court to make that happen.  A slew of paperwork must be gathered and like all good things ... that takes time.  So we hope.  We pray that THIS week is our week for that ... Wednesday will be 4 weeks ... even if they did send us an e-mail that said they projected our family to be submitted the 28th.  THIS Wednesday is the 4 week mark and so I pray that THIS Wednesday is OUR day!

BUT ... unlike what we had known about the Embassy having "10 days to provide clearance", we now know will take longer for our case as, indeed, our Zebene's birth mother will need to be interviewed.  And yes, once again ... that means time.  Time to be arranged in the Embassy's schedule.  Time for her to travel 12 hours up.  Time for the interview.  Time for Embassy to respond.  Time. Time. Time.

So today, this is what Kristin projected out as the "time".   I will try and not kick the walls and scream and hit like a two year old.  As I am trying to teach my six year old "Self Control"and I will need to remind myself that I am the role model - DARN IT!

As I type, I am in the middle of baking Christmas goodies and preparing my kids for a ski trip gift from their Grandparents.  All those things are wonderful gifts to us this year.  We have so much to be thankful for.  And well, we rest in knowing that our biggest *GIFT* is yet to come ... Zebene's arrival home - 2012!!!  Who should be so lucky to have the best Christmas gift to come!  Who should be so lucky  blessed that he thought we were worthy.  We are!  And so ... we wait on HIM to say when!

Merry Christmas! I anticipate within 2 weeks of being submitted, the embassy will email us and your family requesting a birth parent interview. They are currently filling up about 1-2 weeks out from the date of the request, so you can potentially expect a birth parent interview to occur for your family 2-4 weeks after being submitted.
Yes, Z, like that ... gritting of teeth ... you got the face.  Grin and bare it!

I know ... I am supposed to look like this.  Our JOY cometh in the morning!  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Perspective ... it IS a beautiful thing!

So now that he's "ours", I would love to share a little more of our story.  I have been wanting to get some of this down on paper (um, er, blog) so that when I am old and grey I can re-tell my beautiful boy all about the story that the Lord was writing - long before we knew he was busy writing it.   I don't want to forget the places along the way that I had come to learn were the fingerprints of God.

July 27 2010,  we set out to adopt a little person from Ethiopia.  At that time, we weren't sure if it would be a boy or a girl but we knew that it was a child somewhere between 3 and 4.  It didn't take long though that it was decided it was a boy ... something about 3 kids yelling brother and naming him from the backseat of the car might have been a clue.  To add, I had had several dreams where I saw the same little  boy ... in a blue sweater.   It all seemed to make sense to us and so there you go,  
it's a boy!

The paperwork process began and off we went walking confidently into the financing portion of our adoption.  We had a plan and a way until about ... oh ... 6 whole weeks into the process and Doug lost $5,000 out of his monthly income.  Yep, there it went, the confidence and the finances - all in one dark day.

So, there I sat at church on a Sunday morning in September in tears.  Sobbing my way through worship I realized I was so mad.  Mad and confused!  Why in the world had we heard the Lord say "go" ... and if we really even did, why would this happen now?  I couldn't wrap my head around the why's of it all.  Those moments felt so overwhelming ... like the grief you encounter during a horrible loss ... which didn't make sense to me at all.  I couldn't figure out his timing ... but just kept telling Doug that I knew he had said "NOW".    Doug agreed ... and so we kept walking.

That next Friday night, two friends arrived at our door.  They had a proposal for us ... they wanted to help us put together a garage sale to help us raise some of the funds we needed for the journey that lay ahead.  I remember sitting on the couch bewildered.  We barely even really "knew" this couple.  Sure, we had run in somewhat the same crowd at church at one time but that was so long ago.  I sat listening to this precious couple tell us how they wanted to serve and help US and yet I couldn't figure out really, what had prompted their hearts!

That week, on September 11 2010, I wrote this post!  And during that week the Lord gave me this scripture;

"I will answer them before they even call to me.  While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers".  Isaiah 65:24

Little did I know just how relevant that scripture was ... not just for me, but for my son.  It was that week, on September 22 2010 that our Zebene was taken by his birth Mom to the orphanage.  On that day, he became an orphan ... and on that day - September 22, 2010, we also turned in all our paperwork to our social worker so we could begin the home study portion of our process.  We were still waking this journey!  
It wasn't just our needs he was considering.  He didn't just show up in our finances through the heart of sweet friends.  No, all the while, a beautiful young woman was making the hardest decision of our her life and he was busy going to work getting a family 1/2 way around the world ready to bring him HOME ... heartache and all ... we were walking through each door!  

Fast forward some months ... 7 of them.    On May 24, 2010 I blogged about how the Lord was preparing our hearts for our little boy.   On that day I wrote this post.  On that day I wrote these words

Last night I had the most vivid dream of our referral moment and the moment I saw your face.  My heart must be well prepared and perhaps the day will soon come indeed.  We will only know when he shows us his hand and his timing.   Though it doesn't feel perfect, we know it is.

I wanted you to know though, Levi, as you look back at your journey that each and every night we prayed for you and your arrival home.  We dreamt of you, talked of you and included thoughts of you in all of our preparations and plans.  Yesterday during nap time your big sister Maliah was crying.  It was an intense set of emotions she was going through and without prompting she said "I miss my Levi and want him home".  You are talked of often and I believe in our hearts, you have been born.  Watching the swell of emotions from your 5 year old sister reminds me of this truth.

Though we can't see the Lord at work in this story, we know he is.  Much like each day, we can't see our breathe or the wind in the air ... it is there.  So is his presence and his hand in your story.  We may not see it now, in this moment what he is up to ... but I think our spirit does.  He is preparing a place for you ...

On that very day, May 24 2010, our little boy was being brought from the Shalom Children's Hope Orphanage to the Transitional Home of our adoption agency where he would be prepared and readied for his new family.  Yes, on that day ... the Lord really was preparing a place for you, Zebene, and along with that place, he was preparing our hearts!  

And most recently, the Lord showed us just how hard the enemy is at work to try and assure that you would not come home.  But we know what the Lord says ... If our God is with us, then what can stand against us?  

As I recently wrote about it,  here, our travels to get to you was less than easy.  75 LOOONG hours full of one trial after another.  I will never forget after about 48 hours of chaos, Dakota telling me that "Jesus's angels and the enemy's Demons were fighting for us ... but that that was o.k., because we KNEW who would win".   Boy, did I ever need that reminder in that moment.  It was those words that bought me the next 24 hours.  

As we were on our last plane and arriving in Ethiopia, I wrote that post above.  Of course, you can imagine how drained both emotionally and physically we were in those moments.  We were sure we would never make it to Africa.  As our plane was landing I remember looking down and seeing my blue eyed beauty in tears.  Tears!  I asked her what was wrong thinking that something had happened and she shook her head and then through broken words began to explain that she was overcome with joy.  Her tears, were tears of JOY!   She had seen us WIN!  

I wrote that post and received many different comments and reflections from some of you.  Mostly encouragement from those who read on.  Bewilderment from others who couldn't believe we had made it through such an ordeal ... in one piece and still had smiles on our faces.   I know,  I was just as bewildered.  That alone is a finger print of God I shouldn't forget.  
But there was one comment that has always left me puzzled.  The one comment that seemed to work hard to set me into my place ... telling me that I should stop and consider just how much our little boy had been through.  The tone of the comment letting me know that somehow, they didn't appreciate my reflection of my 75 hours and that they thought in some way I had never stopped and considered the loss, grief and trials my own son had encountered to get to this place.  I suppose seeing my hours as simple, nagging complaints.  The comment told me that I didn't need to ever understand why I had missed two days with my boy ... and ended by telling me "perspective was a beautiful thing".

But alas, so much of what you said was wrong ... and yet,  so much was right.  First, I have always wanted to comment on your comment that would suggest that we have never considered the loss, grief and trials our son had to encounter to find his way into our lives.  Are you kidding me???  I live this ... daily!  This aint our first disco.  We live daily the reality of what brokenness does in a child.  We have not only considered it ... but we have are learning with each day how to live it!  Secondly, you are so so right too!  You see, perspective is a beautiful thing!!  In the 75 hours that we were encountering travel hell, we learned that our precious boys birth Mom was traveling 12 hours North and giving her consent to a judge to allow for this adoption to take place.  We didn't have to ever know that ... but the Lord sure did want us to.  I suppose he thought you were right ...  perspective is beautiful! 

 You see, we knew all along that our chaos was spiritual warfare, and we were pretty sure what we were battling ... but now we know WHY we were battling it!  It was everything that the enemy could do to keep us from making it to Ethiopia.  It was everything he could do to discourage us, because he KNEW if we did arrive, that the way was being paved for our little boy to be placed without reservation into our lives.  OUR LIVES ... the lives of a family who would most assuredly tell him THIS story ... the story of a redeemer that had been answering his prayers even before their was a need for them.  A story about a redeemer who had begun to grow a child in our heart, long before we had ever seen his face.  A story of a redeemer who had come to take our precious boys ashes and turn them into HIS beauty!  A story that we will most certainly tell him the rest of his precious days!  

So, there you have it ... Perspective!  You are right!  It is such a beautiful thing ... and even more beautiful, when you see the fingerprints of God sprinkled through it.  

Our journey continues ... he is still writing this great story!  

Friday, December 9, 2011

What now brown Cow ... what's next?

Many have asked what happens now?  I know it seems so hard to understand that we went half way around the world, passed court and yet did not come home with our son.  Welcome to adoption where things don't always "make sense".  Faith!

So what now?  We are currently waiting on the US side to clear our Zebene to come home.  After we passed court, the judge wrote a court decree that is compiled with a bunch of other paperwork.  The infamous MOWCYA approval letter, original birth certificate, passport and another round of medical tests must be completed on Zebene to be submitted to our embassy for approval.  This approval gives us the much needed clearance to come for our "interview" and get his VISA to come home.  Rounding up all these things can take anywhere between 2 and 5 weeks.  Our agency "guestimates" that ours should be submitted on December 28.  We (our agency) can only submit files on Wednesdays so that means if our paperwork is ready on a Thursday, we have to wait until the next Wednesday to be submitted.  UGH. I know.

Once that is submitted, the Embassy has 10 days to respond to our case and can do one of 3 things;
1.)  Find his case "Clearly Approvable" and clear us for an interview and travel.  We will then organize and set our "Interview appointment" which happens in country and travel to bring him HOME!
2.)  Request additional evidence to which our agency would need to track down those items and then we await the Embassy to approve.
3.)  Send our case to the USCIS in Nairobi, Kenya for a complete investigation which would mean a lengthy delay ... most often, months!

So, can you take a guess which door we are praying for!  Clearly ... not hard to decide.

It is our prayer and hope that we are frantically organizing travel and details for a January Embassy date.  That is our prayer this Christmas.  Will you join us in that prayer?

In the meantime, I am trying to figure out how you do Christmas with all that's on our hearts.  I mean, how do you travel twice in a year to a place where you have seen so many children without the basic necessities of life and then come home and shop away to fill stockings and more without thinking and reconciling what you have experienced and the truth of all the things we really don't need?  How do you reconcile that your 3 children have always had Santa bring them goodies each year and yet next year, your child from Ethiopia may stop and wonder where Santa was in his life ... I mean, all those cute TV shows talk about Santa taking goodies to kids all around the world who have been "nice"?  Did Santa just forget him?  It's just something that is rattling around in my heart.  Even if he never asks ... you better believe my other kids will.  And well, what if they don't either ... is that a free kitchen pass to not stop and really take a deeper look at the way we do things?  And really, truthfully, we don't make a fuss out of Santa to begin with since we do try to keep our kids perspective on the truth of Christmas ... a celebration of the King of Kings birth.   But 11 years ago, the only way I knew to celebrate Christmas was the one that most Americans celebrate.  The one with a big fat man who brings you gifts of tidings and joy when you have a been a "good little girl" all year.  Anything different didn't sound like "Christmas" to me.  And it's not wrong ... their are many believers who follow suite and do the same.  Their is the argument that it brings children joy and it is fun to make believe - that isn't wrong or bad.  It doesn't mean they don't and can't know the true meaning of the holiday.  I am not saying that is the case.  But in the end, I wonder (for us) what Jesus would think that we have overshadowed his day in the attempts to keep "tradition" and make things "Fun" in light of all he showed us this year about who he really is ... ?    11 years later and 11 years deeper into my faith, I find my heart taking a moment to re-examen the choices we have made and wonder what Christmas would be like if our joy was wrapped up in the beautiful and simple story of a baby born in a manger who came to save the world.   Isn't that enough?  Would that be enough?

If he was enough for us ... shouldn't he be enough for my kids too?  If a manger, full of animals, with a feed box was good enough that night for the King of Kings ... then why do we believe we deserve anything better?  Why do we believe that HE isn't enough joy each Christmas?

I am just wondering.  I am just pondering.  I'll let you know if I come to a conclusion.  As for this Christmas, we have set out stockings and the "Elf" of Elf on the shelf has arrived.  My kids do love the joy of looking for him each day.  And that's fun.  We also have enjoyed sitting around the table, drinking hot coco and reflecting on a baby who came to save the world.  We have discussed and pondered what Mary must have thought that day when an angel appeared before her.  My kids have come to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, Angels don't look like what we think they do ... because if they did, then why would each time an angel appear before someone, would their meeting begin with "Do not fear"?  We have pondered why their were no rooms available that night and there was no place more deserving and comfortable for the birth of the Savior.   We have talked about that perhaps, Jesus, who came into a home with little was showing us that if it was enough for him .... it should be enough for us!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

We made it home after that long and brutal travel itinerary.  6 hours in LA surely felt like a lifetime.  When you are so close to home and yet so so far.  At that point, we were 29 hours into travels and our bodies were saying "NO MORE!".  This was especially true for my blondie.  As we sat in the airport, she quickly fell off to sleep.  Within a few hours I awoke her to see if she needed to use the restroom.  She said she did and we began walking to the nearest one.  It was then that I realized that my darling daughter was yes, SLEEP WALKING!  From the time she dozed off into her first nap until about 15 minutes from San Antonio touch down, my girl slept.  Perhaps not to the nearest onlooker ... but oh, she was sleeping ... and talking ... and walking ... and saying oh so many WEIRD and crazy things.  It was bizarre!

Since arrival home it seems she also has had the hardest time.  We arrived home on Saturday night (Sunday morning) at 12:45am.  By Sunday morning she was sick on the couch with a girgly tummy and vomiting.  I started her on an antibiotic I had for stomach dysentary that afternoon.  Monday morning she was still sick but by the afternoon she was starting to perk up.  Tuesday she was great and begged to go to school ... we obliged.  The rest of the week she did great though she was still very tired each afternoon and seemed to have little appetite.

Friday night I joined my folks for dinner out.  They had planned to take the kids back to their house while I attended a CD release function for a sweet friend.  Dakota at dinner complained of a tummy ache and her coloring began to disappear.  She nibbled on a tortilla
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