Sunday, December 13, 2009

our story

I was asked to write down our story for an adoption fundraiser. One great catch was that this person requested I get it back to her in a day. That gave me the freedom to just write down my thoughts in an hour, and not scrutinize over each paragraph, word choice, stuff like that. It is not a work of art. But it is our story, our adoption story. Well, since it is done, I thought I would share it here, too.

Our Story

We were not a couple who “always thought” we would adopt some day. Honestly, I am not a huge baby person. We had our 3 biological kids, and I was crazy about them, but still never felt we needed to adopt. Then in 2003, God placed it on my heart to foster a boy for a summer, who was from the Saharawi refugee camp in Algeria, Africa. Thankfully, Farmboy agreed to this. He was most likely thinking --- how much could it hurt? It is for ONLY two months...... That was the beginning of our family starting to step out in faith. We began to experience the huge blessing and growth in faith as we kept going the next steps. The boy we brought into our home was named Mohamed, an 11 yr old Muslim boy. This experience was extremely difficult at times, but we were also hugely blessed by knowing this boy and opening our hearts to him. We had the opportunity to have this boy in our home periodically for the next 3 years. He eventually lived with us full-time as he pursued an education in the US. Then, although we planned to have Mohamed live with us for many more years, God planned for him to return to Algeria in August 2006. God taught us many, many things during that experience. Most significantly, he taught us that life is not all about the pursuit of comfort and pleasure. True fulfillment will never come from those pursuits, but from giving of ourselves for Him. Another life-changing thing this experience taught us is that we could love a child that was not biologically ours. Hmmmm, wonder how that will matter in the future.....

With Mohamed no longer with us, one evening in December 2006, my husband and I were out to dinner and he just plopped this question on the table – “So are we going to adopt or what?” That question just sat there, and we actually turned it over and over. This was definitely some sort of thought God had planted. February 2007, we then looked into our state’s foster to adopt program. We left that first meeting a bit confused, as we both thought we would adopt domestically, but after the meeting, both felt inclined to pursue international adoption instead. My first desire was to adopt from somewhere in Africa, as a way to somehow be a part of Mohamed’s people, his land, but I didn’t reveal this desire to my husband. As we researched our options, however, then he and I both came to the decision together to pursue adopting from Ethiopia. We also were not sure what gender to adopt. We had 3 children, an 11 yr old boy, a 9 yr old girl and a 7 yr old boy. My daughter desperately wanted a sister, but I couldn’t shake my desire for another boy. My husband threw out the idea to adopt one of each, and it sounded like a good one. And as I said, we are not baby people, so we decided on a boy/girl sibling set ages 3-7 years. Then, on February 27, 2008, we got referred our 4.5 year old twins. Their birth mother was sick and could no longer care for them. They also had a one year old sister at home, but the birth mother was not relinquishing her. TWINS!!! I had prayed the desire of my heart many times to the Lord, and prayed for twins, but also prayed for God’s best choice for our family. What a blessing, what a kind God.

We got the twins on April 14, 2008. Then, bringing them back home, we started the massive adjusting. They were very ready for a mom and dad, and also connected so well with our bio kids. But this was still a very exhausting, stressful, difficult time. I knew this was God’s best for us, and was trusting for his strength daily, but I must admit it was hard. I had to die to myself daily, to my selfish desires to just go out and do the coffee thing, or the shopping thing that most of my other friends were doing, as their kids were all school age, like my bio kids, and were finally getting some free time.

Four months after bringing the kids home, on August 14, 2008, we got a call from our agency that the twin’s mother had died, and their little sister was now an orphan. Would we consider adopting her? This was the HARDEST decision we have ever had to make. I was still hugely in the throes of adjusting to the twins, not feeling settled at all yet. Their little sister was less than 2 years old (remember, we ARE NOT baby people), the financial burden of adopting again, and parenting yet another child was also daunting. Farmboy and I prayed and sought the Lord through the Word continually. Honestly, we prayed that God would give us a firm NO. We did not want to do this, but did not feel at peace saying no unless this was from God. Finally after 4 weeks of seeking the Lord, we felt our hearts slowly change and we were miraculously ready to go forward with the adoption. We were planning on calling our agency the next day. Our agency, however, called us first to inform us of the difficult news that tests were just back and it was determined that their little sister was HIV +. Our first thought was, is this a closed door? Is this the “NO” we were praying for? So we prayed some more, both feeling really confused about what God was calling us to do. Then one day, after the kids all left for school, I just started to sob. I begged God for his guidance and advice. He seemed so silent. I then emailed our agency, informing our case worker that we were not going to pursue the adoption. I thought this would give me some peace, that since I had finally made a decision, we could move on. No peace came. That afternoon, as I paced around the house, I felt the only thing left to do was read the Bible. Maybe that would help me, calm me. I opened up to where I last left off. I read 2 Corinthians 8:10-12.

"And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have."

These words pierced my heart, and I sensed a flicker of peace begin to grow, as I finally felt like I knew what God was asking us to do. I asked Farmboy to read that passage that evening, not at all wanting to persuade him. After he read it, he basically said, “Well, let’s go.” From then on, we were able to embrace this adoption as something God wanted us to do. I have learned that if God is orchestrating it, He will provide what is needed for every step, and that there is blessing throughout the journey.

I certainly hoped that the paperchase and other adoption hurdles to jump for this next adoption would be relatively easy. But this was not to be. Once we started working on completing this adoption, there were obstacles and delays around nearly every corner. We initially thought we would bring our daughter home in 2008, maybe by Christmas that year. Instead, I finally got her Nov. 1, 2009. But, again, God is so wise. This was the best time to get her. As an example of his perfect timing, she turned 3 on Oct. 13, 2009, and with us not being baby people, this felt like God showing us his sense of humor. He asked us to adopt her when she was only 1 year and 10 months, but he KNEW she was not coming into our family until she was 3 years old. He knew we aren’t baby people. He is so good.

Since home, the adjusting has gone so much better than initially with the twins. Maybe it is because this isn’t our first adoption. Maybe it is because she is younger. Maybe it is because she is HIV+, and there is a part of me that feels more protective, nurturing because I know she is more vulnerable. Maybe it is because we only adopted one child this time. No, I believe this is just God’s blessing on me. I believe He is just being the awesome, personal, kind God He is. Praise Him!!!

I ran across this quote recently and it totally resonates with me:

There is your plan for your life and God’s plan for your life, and yours doesn’t really count.

That tiny little quote oozes truth. But it is not something to fear. Not at all. We just need to understand that God’s plans truly are best, and that He does love us deeply. Enough to die for us. How can we not trust Him?

As I rock her to sleep for her naps, I have this welling up in my heart of love for her, and this deep knowledge that she was meant to be a part of our family from the very beginning. God had all three of these children planned for our family, and in His way, in His timing, He brought them to us and we all are blessed.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Living life with no regrets

My sister is currently being treated for breast cancer. She was diagnosed this past August. My mother was just told this week that the results of her mammogram indicate there was something suspicious in one of her lymph nodes. She will need to have a biopsy. Hopefully, prayerfully, this is NOT cancer. But it certainly gets you thinking....

Life is short, shockingly short sometimes.

With the life God is giving me, am I LIVING for Him, or just living? Am I playing it safe? Or am I taking hold of the opportunities He puts before me. I know there are many times that I miss the opportunities, that I just maybe ignore them because they seem difficult, inconvenient, possibly even a little ridiculous. I also know there have been times that we have grasped those opportunities, even the questionably "crazy" ones, and once we got a hold of them, we ARE richly blessed. So why don't we take a hold of those opportunities EVERY time??? It is that struggle again, my plans, my timing, my life. And God's plans, His timing. It is always inconvenient, always costly, always something I just don't initially want to do. But every time, it is also BLESSED. I hope I can remember that.

I so want to live a life that pleases God and a life that is full of good fruit, not regrets. So I was walking the dog yesterday. Seriously, if you don't have a dog, get one --- and walk it, it gives you a chunk of time to commune with God, to sometimes argue, to question, but to ultimately throw your concerns at Him, and let...them...go. Anyways, during the walk, I was thinking about my mom and sister and praying for their healing, for their lives. Then I thought about my own life. Again, I prayed for His strength to live my life, however long or short, prepared to grab the opportunities He puts before me, trusting Him. Then I believe there are truly no regrets.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Soooooo thankful to all be together......FINALLY.

Our Li'l B was terrified of our dog at first, look what 3 weeks home can do.

And Li'l B slept in our room the first couple of weeks, but the past week the nights have looked something like this. Awwww.

This year, Thanksgiving was shared with Farmboy's side of the family. Thanks to all the contributors, but especially Heidi and Chris, the food was fabulous and we all probably added a little thickness around the know, just in time for the holidays.

The boys watching our Lions get crushed. Go Lions ?!?

Part of the family getting ready for the big dinner.....and snacking on the pre-dinner appetizers that make you full even before dinner starts. Why do we do that?

Heidi had some 3 year old crafts that the 14 yr old and 12 yr old enjoyed playing with. Wow, Claire, nice coloring. Maybe your mom will put that one on the fridge???

Another tradition -- cut down the tree. Li'l B was probably wondering why in the world we were doing this, and why in the world is it SO cold. Oh, dear, it just gets COLDER.

The family.....the trick to a decent shot "spur of the moment" style-- do a black and white shot, that way you can't tell how awfully we clash.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Trip

People have been asking how our trip went, and I realized the blog world may like to hear, too, so here goes. And even if you aren't interested, well, it's my blog, so I guess I get to do what I want anyway.

Friday and Saturday

First of all, we were able to stop in Cairo, Egypt for 2 days before the "adoption trip". Highly recommend!!!!! Also, you may want to know that if you fly Ethiopian Airlines, the trip to Cairo is basically FREE. You only pay some minimal taxes, surcharges, maybe adding less than 100 bucks to the cost of the fare from Dulles to Addis Ababa. So, financially, very feasible. Also, I was very fortunate to have a friend who currently resides in Cairo, and she played tour guide the whole time we were there. Her apartment overlooks the Nile, with a view of the pyramids in the distance, so it is quite breathtaking. We crammed in as much as humanly possible in the 48 hours we saw this land. Yes, the trip was short, but since we may never return, I believe we took complete advantage of our time and enjoyed some wonderful experiences. And the food.....absolutely delicious. Honestly, Ethiopian food has some spices that are unfamiliar to my palate, so I eat rather sparingly in Ethiopia. But in Egypt, I enjoyed EVERYTHING!

A bit surprising to me, and another wonderful blessing, I was totally able to enjoy this jaunt out of the way before we embarked on the adoption trip. I was excited to meet Li'l B in a few days, but wasn't consumed with the thought, and was able to be fully present for our Egypt adventure. My dear friend Laura accompanied me on this part of the trip and when you get two old friends together, there is bound to be a wonderful time, with laughs, giddiness, silliness and just great fun. Oh, and little sleep, that may be a reason why there was so much giddiness.

This shot was taken from our balcony, the Nile before us, and the pyramids in the mist in the distance. Stunning.

Ouch, this poor guy needs a nose job.


Next stop, Addis Ababa.

We arrived in Addis on a Sunday morning, after traveling through the night from Cairo. Travis from Gladney was there, as was Solomon, our same driver as last time. So nice to see familiar faces! Travis dropped us off at the Ayat house, the same guest house as last time, too. Again, nice to see familiar, friendly faces, as we are welcomed back by Waguyu and Zimmett. I wasn't sure what my plan would be, but once in-country I wanted to meet Li'l B ASAP. Travis was completely willing to work with all my requests. We were not planning on following the typical Gladney schedule, as I had a year to think about what I wanted to see. Travis/Gladney were incredibly accommodating and flexible. So, we head off to meet my daughter, and the first meeting was quite comfortable. Not mind-blowing, not amazingly stressful, actually relatively calm. I came armed with bubbles and she was fascinated. This gave me time to hold her and introduce myself. Then we walked around and through the home, and THAT WAS IT. Laura and I then went back to the guest house where we crashed for about 5 hours. That got my head the rest it desperately needed.

Later, Sunday night, my friend Maggie flies in to Ethiopia, as she is joining us on the rest of the trip.


Today we were scheduled to drive out to my children's village in Bantu, about 60 miles, yet 2.5 hours, away. This was INCREDIBLE. We stopped along the way to pick up their great-aunt, who has been instrumental in advocating for all three of our children. SO grateful for this woman. Then, on the long car ride, I was able to ask great-aunt tons of questions, to help understand my children's stories before they were ours. So many little nuggets! We then met extended family in Bantu, and saw the house my children lived in prior to coming to Gladney. Family treated us to lunch and again, we were given more information about our children's life prior to us. I brought many pictures, but could have brought hundreds more. They were like gold. So, for those of you with opportunities to bring pictures, bring MANY. It still won't be enough.

The extended family outside the house our kids lived in for a time.

The river that the twins brought their animals to for water.

Monday night I walk to the foster home, this time armed with a balloon. Li'l B warms up a tad more and we punch the balloon around.


Today we drove down to Asala, about a 3 hour drive south of Addis. We were able to meet the birth family of Maggie's adopted daughters and see where they grew up. Priceless!!! This is a beautiful, lush part of Ethiopia, with green, rolling hills, and a backdrop of stunning mountains. Lots of herds, too, cows, cows, more cows, goats, sheep, even one herd of camels. We also saw a family of monkeys hanging around a group of trees.

Tuesday night visit Li'l B again, with a ball in hand. She is becoming more playful as we rolled and threw the ball and she high-fived me a few times.


Wednesday we slept in, recovering from our first 2 travel days. Later, Belay gave us a personal tour of the 4 foster homes. Man, he LOVES these kids!!! Again, I got to spend some time with Li'l B, this time bringing a book to read. We wrapped up the afternoon by shopping for much of it. I am NOT a shopper, but thoroughly enjoy it when traveling. Hey, we were just spurring on their economy. In the evening, went to dinner with Gladney staff, which was a blast.


Pack up in the morning, then walk to the foster home after lunch to GET Li'l B. We say our goodbyes, take tons more pictures, then I just walk her out of there to the guest house. And that is that. Seemed anticlimactic, yet peaceful.

Once at the guest house, she warmed up in about 10 minutes. She was playful the rest of the day, and basically a dream on the flight home.

Enjoying coffee with Waguyu and Zimmett.

Remember the 4 B's -- bubbles, books, balls and balloons. Super easy to pack and definitely crowd pleasers.

I totally want to stress the WONDERFUL time I had on this trip. My friend and I each got custody of our children almost immediately for our first adoptions, but we both believed doing it this way, visiting her at the foster home, yet not taking custody until the end of the trip, was massively less stressful for us all. I had the privilege to experience things I would not have been able to, had I had our little one in tow, and she was able to stay in the comfort of what was familiar while she learned to warm up to me.



Our first family the airport.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One Week

Things are going surprisingly well. I am feeling emotionally strong, although I am exhausted by about 9pm every night. For this night owl, that is definitely not the norm. Li'l B is happy, talkative (we have no clue what she is saying, though) and sleeping very well. Oh, and potty-trained, too.

Looking around the dining room table at all my kids.......God is so good.

This has been a blessed first week.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

All together

Yesterday we returned HOME.

Our little one slept from 10pm to 8:30am.

Major blessing!!!!!

Now we just have to keep the other 5 kids from smothering her.

So thankful to finally be together.

In country, we were able to go to our children's village and meet with extended family members. Amazing! We got to see the church where our kids were baptized and the river that the twins brought their animals to for water. We got to hear the story of how their great-aunt was so instrumental in saving our little one's life. What a wonderful woman!

Oh, and we didn't take Li'l B to the guest house with us until the last day in-country. This was the perfect decision for us. I visited her every day, bringing a toy or two to play with and bond. We finally brought her to the guest house the day we were leaving, and she warmed up in about 10 minutes. Incredible, really. This gave us a chance to see much more of Ethiopia and really enjoy the experience.

She was a super traveler. My friend Laura is in this shot, too.

Home with her siblings.....

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Buttercup meets Tater

Buttercup has arrived in Addis and settled in at the Ayat house. We had a brief conversation over the phone this afternoon. In case any of you did not know Buttercup is not taking custody of Lil' B until later in the trip. She hopes to do much more traveling in country this time and the newer regulations, since our first trip, don't allow traveling about with the kids.

I honestly think we're happier this way anyway as we've heard of other agencies that ease you in with your kids over a series of meetings rather than taking them right away. She and Tater had "meeting #1" Sunday afternoon. Travis of the in country staff asked Tater if she wanted to go to America... her answer - um, no. I cannot fathom what is going on in her little head. What a life thus far for this precious little one.

Buttercup spent a short hour with her and eased into the connection with some bubbles & games. She had the opportunity to hold her and said it was a very successful first meeting... one last thing that got passed on... oh, and she has "good hair"... yes!

Tomorrow they hope to head off to the village where the 3 kids grew up in. This is honestly the part of the trip I am most jealous of. I am so hopeful we can get some pictures to help piece together more of their heritage. If we can get some pictures of their homes and surroundings and hopefully even some extended family how awesome would that be?

The days ahead should allow for a few more short meetings with Lil'B then taking her back to Ayat on Wednesday.

A few have inquired how I am doing here. Some say your head may swell very slightly when there is lots of stress. Others say in the rarest most concerning cases the opposite effect of a shrinking head may occur... well here's a picture of me with a few of the kids.

Actually, all is well back here at home... we're ready & waiting!

Friday, October 30, 2009

31 plane ride hours later.....

First stop, Cairo.

This place is amazing and my friend Wendy, our host, has been fantastic. You can see the Nile from her balcony, and the pyramids in the distance.

Tomorrow night we leave for Ethiopia!

Laura, Wendy and I at the pyramids.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Well, I think we are ready to go. Bags have been packed and weighed, Farmboy's hair has been cut (so he doesn't look too grizzly when I return), lists have been made for the family to maybe follow while I am gone.

Tomorrow morning, my dear friend Laura and I leave, first stopping in Egypt to visit a friend there for a couple days, and then on to Ethiopia and Li'l B. Sunday, Nov. 1, we will meet her for the first time. Kinda surreal, but it IS real.

Here's hoping to a decent night's sleep (not really counting on that one).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tickets are bought.
Bags are starting to get packed.
We are getting our little girl!!!

October 28th

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Birthday!!!

Our baby turned 3 today. Happy Birthday, Li'l B!!!

God has such a great sense of humor. I have to honestly admit Farmboy and I were looking upon adopting a 2 yr old with a hint of trepidation. Seriously, when we first learned of our little dear, we had to double check with our case worker about the age, hoping we were mistaken, and she was actually almost 3, rather than almost 2 at the time. I know, I know, lots of people LOVE that age. The younger the better, stuff like that. Uh, not so much for us. We are so much more drawn to a bit older, just connect so much more easily to older children. Hey, with our first adoption, we specifically requested age 3 or older. But, we KNEW she was to be a part of our family and trusted that God would help us parent our little 2 yr old. Hmmmm, is that why God made this whole thing take so dang long? Yes, I am being a bit trite. There has been a massive amount of aching and longing for her as we waited and waited....and SHE HAD TO LIVE OVER A YEAR WITHOUT HER PARENTS. Heartbreaking. But, I also see a glimpse of His best. Of course, yet again, God knew what He was doing all along.

Well, sweetie, happy 3rd birthday!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

miles closer

Next step -- our approved I-600 is now at the US embassy in Ethiopia, according to my Gladney case worker. Hopefully Monday our HIV waiver will be submitted, and 6-10 business days later it should be approved. Then we book travel....

Friday, October 02, 2009


I'm stunned.

Inch by inch....and then hundreds of miles in one moment.

We just got notification our I-600 is approved. 5 days! It got approved in 5 days.

Not quite sure the rest of the paper trail, to the National Visa Center, to the embassy, getting the HIV waiver approved....but I think this means ONE WEEK of travel.

When? Still unsure, but we are getting so close!

Monday, September 28, 2009


There is your plan for your life,
and God’s plan for your life,
and your plan doesn’t really count

Found this on another blog.
LOVE it.
Hey, it even made it on my pantry door.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Twists and Turns

So yesterday we were on the phone with Gladney, as they are working hard to get some documents needed to process the I-600 immigration form in the States. We know time is getting short, but if we can get this form processed here, instead of how typically done in Ethiopia, we could have Gladney file our HIV waiver for us, instead of my filing it while in Ethiopia and waiting 2+ weeks for it to be approved, shortening my travel from 3+ weeks to only one week. This would be a HUGE blessing!

So I plan to contact my state representative, knowing I will need him to advocate for us so that USCIS can turn around the I-600 approval in about 5 weeks, instead of their typical 3-6 months.

Then late last night, our HIV advocacy group contacted me to let me know that as of yesterday, now the waiting on the TB test results for our little one is no longer required. So....once the embassy panel doctors sign off on her case, we can travel! So that could mean in a week, a couple weeks. Not...quite...sure, but SOONER. So we are still REALLY hoping to get the I-600 approved here in the States, but instead of a 5 week turn around, now we are talking about a 2 week turn around. Sounds impossible. Maybe it is. For the past year, I have been preparing myself for the longer trip, but in the past 2 weeks, with the possibility of shortening it significantly, I was feeling so much hopefulness about the possibility.

Some don't quite understand, thinking a nice long trip would be a wonderful way to see our children's birth country. And I totally agree --- when you are NOT adopting. The adoption trip is altogether different. Not a sight-seeing trip, but immensely emotional. Our sweet one will most likely be terrified of me at first, and I will just WANT TO GET HER HOME, start our family, start adjusting, settling in. That is virtually impossible while in Ethiopia, and without my sweet Farmboy, as he will be home with our 5 other kiddos.

Anyways, so again I am made profoundly aware how I have NO control in this adoption process. So we pray, do what we can, and see how God handles the rest.

Oh, and isn't she darling? She weighs more than Kume did when we adopted her, and Kume was 1.5 years older. Love the chub!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Aug 14, 2008 - Aug 14, 2009

We got the call about our little sweetie on August 14, 2008. Yes, we were initially stunned (read here if you'd like), but now are excited (slight understatement) and grasping on to the truth that God has given us this privilege and responsibility to parent another of His children.

First glimpse EVER of our little girl....

Just got this picture from Natalie yesterday, Aug. 14, 2009....

Just a a little while longer, sweetie (end of October, hopefully)!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Why we aren't packing yet....

Many have asked when we are traveling. Bummer, but not yet. Many have heard about the new TB requirements, and our little one falls into that quagmire of more nonsensical waiting. Two main reasons:

1) She is not recognized as a US citizen at adoption.
2) She is HIV+, therefore required to do the TB sputum testing, even though for her health it would be FAR better for her to get out of a country where the risk of contracting TB while she waits is far more likely then that she would pose ANY risk in the States.

Here is a link to a great blog of one of the founders of Project HOPEFUL. This woman advocates for adoptive families of HIV+ children. On this link, she discusses the FACE act, a bill which Congress is currently considering. It makes COMPLETE sense. Please read it.

So, we wait patiently, hoping to travel in 10-12 weeks.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Here's a story, of a lovely lady... (key Brady Bunch Theme song)


My sweet Buttercup is camping this week and away from our computer.
I get to break the news that we PASSED court.


I'm sure she will want to spill her emotions upon her return.

Until then, here's a few more pic's of our sweet new addition

Thanks for all of you who were praying for our family during this time!

Farmboy Brady

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

JULY 30 - let's try this again

As expected, court was not successful today. We are now scheduled for July 30. One kinda cool bit of news. The courts have postponed their shut down until August 21 to accommodate adopting families and some of the delays that have arisen due to an unexpected government agency closure.

No matter what, God is the one true God, there is no other God but Him. It is said over and over in Scriptures and tonight during my walk I sensed Him reminding me of this awesome truth. And He dazzles. The sky this evening, the stars, the trees, the light, the darkness displaying His glory. Stunning. Okay, if He can handle creation, He can handle this.

I think He wanted me to share.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Court Delay

So I guess this is the best way to hear news. Sitting on the beach on vacation with dear, old friends (well, hey, we aren't OLD, but I mean friends we have had a long time -- you know, since college, some since elementary school, so for 20 to 35 years, hmmmm, I guess that does sound old). Anyways, sweet Natalie calls.

There is an Ethiopian governmental agency that must make an opinion for our case before the court will make a ruling. This agency just closed for 2 weeks, starting last Wednesday (nothing like NO notice), to do a training of sorts, and will reopen July 23. Oh, if they had just waited a...few...more...days. Honestly, why not wait until the court closure for the rainy season? Certainly makes sense to me. would think they would put us at the top of the list of cases needing opinions, but it just doesn't work that way. Natalie is hoping we get a new court date before the court closures. We will see. NOTHING has gone smoothly this go 'round, so I am guarding my heart again.

God allows hardships to those He loves, and promises to help us develop a more Christ-like character as we walk through the hardships. We are awed that He loves us like that and are trying to persevere during this current ache. Isn't there a verse out there saying something outlandish like, "rejoice always" and "in everything, give thanks." Another walk by faith.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

adoptive families camping trip

We just returned from a camping weekend with several families who have adopted or are in process of adopting kids from Ethiopia. What a blast. Fifteen families camped, and about 15-20 other families came for an all-day picnic/beach day on Saturday. This group has been a huge and unexpected blessing to us. We have met some wonderful families, many of which I am now regularly in a prayer group with, and do the occasional playdate thing with a few others. We humans are so relational and crave connectedness. I believe that Farmboy and I connect with these families in a deep way because we understand each other without exhausting ourselves and others trying to explain our lives. The attachment, the struggles, the questions, the joys, the passion, the frustration, the fears, the hope -- we connect.

Oh, a sweet moment -- a woman pulled me aside and thanked me for our encouraging blog. They are in the process of adopting an HIV+ child, and were encouraged by some of my words. Hey, I am thrilled if these words do more than just fill a computer screen. This family has not told their family or friends about their decision yet and I hopefully had a chance to encourage her some more that day.

One family in particular my kids adored -- all of them. This family has 6 kids, 2 of them being twin 4 yr old girls recently adopted from Ethiopia. On the way home, each of my kids had paired themselves up for marriage with the kids from this family. Li'l B has no idea what she is in for....

The family minus Farmboy, our photographer. And, yeah, we still have the dog. Anyone want a Beagle?

A glimpse of a few of the families at the gathering.

Kume and one of the twins getting more connected.

Kume and a twin goofing around, maybe....or wrestling vehemently for a place in the jumprope line.

The jumprope line has it's 4 at a time. Yup, all of the 14 pictures we took were blurry, so this is all you get.

One of the "pairs" working on a creation. Hey, I would be thrilled SOME day.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Our court date is scheduled for July 14. We are praying.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

God's timing IS perfect

So I am in the middle of the latest Beth Moore bible study on the book of Esther. Again, God's timing is impeccable for this Buttercup.

As I look back, I see God's perfect timing throughout many chapters in our lives. Most recently, Jambo and Kume came home at the absolutely best time for our family. Over and over I have seen the perfectness of His plan. Of course, there are those that I still don't understand, and on this side of eternity, I may never. That is where faith comes in, and I throw my confusion back at God. He always catches it well, handles it perfectly and never drops it. Once thrown back to Him, He grows His indescribable peace in me.

As we wait on Li'l B, wait for her to be HOME, here are some gifts God has given to me in His perfect timing. These are all excerpts from the Esther study. (Hope that is credit enough. This Buttercup has done tons of research throughout college and grad school, so properly noting resources has been exhaustively drilled into me).

"He never takes His eyes off of us or off the clock ticking over us."

even when it totally doesn't feel like it....

"When all is said and done, Satan can't win and God with you can't lose."

I SO needed to hear that.

"Sometimes we fear that fighting for what is right will kill us. Then again, it occurs to us that to stand by and do nothing out of self-preservation is to be dead already."

Oh, we were so fearful at first to bring an HIV+ child into our home, but God clearly revealed to us our fear was out of our desire to preserve our safe, little lives. He is completely not about that! He is about LIVING.

"Every giant-sized weight drops into our laps right on schedule. None of our purposes will be fulfilled easily. All of them will require the most difficult decisions we think we can make. Decisions that we may feel will practically kill us. Then God does something miraculous and we become something we're not."

Again, that was EXACTLY where we were when contemplating adopting Li'l B. It certainly wasn't on OUR schedule, and I don't have the words to describe just how massively difficult the decision making time was. But I so believe we have become something different as we have stepped out in faith. More eternally focused....and excited to parent Li'l B, the girl, not Li'l B, the HIV+ child.

"In times of greatest struggle when you make the Godward decision over convenience, earthly comfort, or carnal pleasure, you too have come to a critical moment in the fulfillment of your destiny. A defining moment."

Fulfilling our destiny....oh, it is humbling and exhilarating.

Lastly, "She must step into the unknown known and into the hiddenness completely unhidden. Fully exposed, only a providential force could protect her now."

Yes, us too. This is our destiny, and we are not continuing to walk this journey hidden. In the HIV/AIDS world, in the developing world, life or death is the issue. In America, with amazing meds, disclosure is possibly the biggest issue. God has nudged us to not remain hidden, but to be exposed, to disclose, trusting that He will protect us.

So, as we wait on God's perfect timing for Li'l B, we are truly thankful for the reminders that His timing IS always perfect.

Matthew 12:20 - ....till He brings justice to victory.

Friday, June 12, 2009

3.5 hours into summer vacation....

It took only 3 hours into our summer vacation to have a medical incident. OchoCinco drove his knee head on into a tramp bar splitting it WIDE OPEN. So my sweet Buttercup calls me at work informing me she needs to take him to the emergency room. So to clarify when I say it was WIDE open, bone exposed, I mean 2 inches long and and 1 inch wide. I know this is a family program so I will spare you the before stitches picture. Maybe if you want a glimpse, imagine a huge carp with its bloody mouth wide open... My words at the sight of it were simply "oh my". We were thrilled to hear it was only stitches, 18 of them. Now a bit of a trophy for the young man.

Considering our homestudy is complete, I guess I can confess we sometimes do let the small stuff go... The mother of the friend whose house the trampoline incident was at spewed apologetically about it. We laughed it off and didn't even call a lawyer. Imagine.

I guess here's the bottom line. Our kids run and skin their knees. They run barefoot and they climb trees. They ride bikes in the street and the older ones don't ever wear a helmet. Sometimes I wonder if we were just that crazy when I was a kid or if we've maybe lost a little bit with this overprotective attitude lately. Not sure.

Action's latest quest... (hopefully no more medical incidents to come)

Yep, he's smiling!

Monday, June 08, 2009

They are ON the charts!!!

Woo hoooo!!!

So the twins are now officially on the US growth charts. Kume is now between the 5th and 10th percentile and Jambo is at the 25th percentile. This is really great growth, since they were both FAR below even the bottom of the growth chart just a year ago. Thank God for chock-full-o-growth-hormones milk (oh, please, I am all about healthy, but if the milk can give a little boost, I won't complain).

Oh, and we really do have plenty of beds for sleeping, but our sweet little Kume prefers to snuggle up to whomever will tolerate her for the night.

Here is a picture of our Ethiopian giants :)
* the twins laugh hysterically at this picture *

Just had to add this one. Farmboy is hopeful we (the Red Wings) will win the Stanley Cup this year. We are awfully close.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Okay I have arrived. I have descended on the place where reading blogs is painful, where glancing through others' time lines brings discouragement and (yes, I have to admit it) jealousy. Where hearing about court dates and packing and shopping and travel gives me the sensation in my stomach that I swallowed a lead-filled baseball. I don't want to be this way.

I am thrilled in my brain for the families that are uniting. I trust in God's goodness and His sovereignty and His involvement of setting these children into our families. And a part of my heart is also thrilled, also excited, actually overjoyed that these children WILL NO LONGER BE ORPHANS!!! But that thrill is definitely tempered with my own ache.

Yes, others have been waiting longer. Some, MUCH longer. We all have our own stories, and I do trust that this waiting is not wasted. That God is working here. But, sometimes it is just plain hard, and possibly by writing these thoughts down, this may act as some sort of valve that opens, and drains some of the ache for a while. We will see.

So, little one, we first learned of you August 14, 2008. At first the thought of adding another to our family so soon was daunting, now the very slim prospect of possibly losing you before you come home is immensely more daunting (yes, I know that this possibility is EXTREMELY remote, but HIV+ children obviously do have compromised immune systems). Interesting how God works on hearts. These months have worked to cement you deeply into ours.

As I ponder the documentation still needed for the courts, the new TB requirements which will add 2-4 months on our wait after court, and my own powerlessness in this situation, these words struck a chord in my spirit.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
Isaiah 11: 3-4.

Thank God He is just and His plans cannot ultimately be thwarted. Ever.

I feel a bit like I bet the psalmist David must have felt. I feel more hopeful now and less discouraged after penning these thoughts. Hmmmm, I may have to do this more often.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another one says farewell to soccer

Today was the final game of soccer for Action. I am sure there will continue to be many games still played on our front lawn, but he has chosen to say good bye to organized soccer and move on to football. Football at such a young age scares me, and that is saying a lot, since I am so not a worry wart, and pretty much think everyone will always be okay. We allowed our oldest to start football at 5th grade, thinking he might possibly have enough girth by then. Uh, not so much, but we kept our promise anyways. So Action is starting 4th grade in the fall, but somehow talked us into football this year. Again, not so much girth, but that may not happen with our boys until they hit college, so what's a mom to do?

Seriously contemplating his game...
(actually "taking a knee" for an injured player)

Great season, buddy, it's been fun watching you improve through the years.

Oh, and we took Kume to get some pictures. We took Jambo, too, but somehow his are not accessible online. So this girl is usually quite photogenic, and did a great job. Then I looked closely after the session and saw a ring of cracker crumbs around her mouth. Yeah, I know, why didn't I look closely before. So we returned to the studio and they had time to only take one shot. Mercifully, it was a good one.

Friday, May 22, 2009

How can you NOT like THE PRINCESS BRIDE???

The Princess Bride

Sophomore year of college, I went to Southern California for spring break with 2 college roommates. The first night we got in from the beach, we decided to watch The Princess Bride, since my roommate's brother had it and recommended it. Then we watched it again the next night, and the next and the next. Five nights in a row. It became OUR movie. For the next few years, when we just needed a boost, we would watch it again. I tell you, this was our feel good movie. You probably have one, too.

Hello, we even nicknamed ourselves from the movie. I, of course, am the sweet Buttercup and hubby is the handsome Farmboy (since he thought Westley sounded a bit too non-tough).

So I am talking to one of my dearest friends, Laura, today. Seriously, she is an awesome friend. We have known each other since college (but....she wasn't on the California trip), and our friendship has developed to the point that she is like a kindred spirit to me. She is my accountability partner. She is hopefully traveling with me to pick up Li'l B when I go to Ethiopia, so Farmboy can stay home with the family to keep it somewhat intact. She is one of only 2, maybe 3 people that I can be almost totally vulnerable with. Hey, we are sisters and I love her dearly. But....we were on the phone this morning planning a get together for this evening when I mentioned that one of the things I wanted to do was watch The Princess Bride with the family. She couldn't recall what movie it was, and when I explained it, she said something like, "Oh, you know, I don't really like that movie. Chuck (her sweet husband who gets the movie) is always quoting the next line before it's said (isn't that cool???) and it sort of bugs me. I just don't get the draw of it." Huh? Don't worry, Laura and I will work through this. Our friendship deserves it, but it IS inconceivable....

If you haven't seen it yet, rent it and enjoy!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spring has Sprung

The heat has finally convinced us that the long cold winter is over. We wait impatiently for our missing documents. We've had to try to explain the delays inherent in the process a few too many times, although we really can't understand it ourselves.

Just so you all know we have kept ourselves busy...

Mothers Day, we had a chance to picnic with the Grand Parents

...and later take a hike. the mud. Always a nice surprise!

HE made the vine, they climb the branches.

OchoCinco also turned thirTEEN on us, May 10
Happy Birthday Chief!

And Farmboy got to "stroll the plantation" with Buttercup...
For the record, Farmboy does the work outside the house.

If any of you have seen the upside down tomato plants aka "TOPSY TURVY" for the low low price of $19.95 plus S&H. Farmboy will attempt to make do with 2 tidycat bins and a shepherds hook... more to come as we progress: