If there is anyone still following our story...sorry I have not posted in so long...maybe I have a good reason??...our little Sunshine is finally home forever and she is truly a blessing! We arrived home on April 22, 2011...Good Friday! Praise the Lord! So we have been home for 5 months and Sunshine keeps me moving. In fact, she is being my little helper right now!! :) I am starting a new blog which I hope to get going in the next few weeks...we have some big news!!
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come and see the works of the Lord,
the desolations he has brought on the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
This is one of God's many promises that I have been clinging to throughout the past year and a half. Thank you ,God, for being my strength and for providing the peace I need during so many uncertain times in my life. As we go through the waiting of adoption, as we pray for a dear friend who is fighting cancer, as we struggle with our relationship with our oldest, God is with us...carrying us through most of the time. He is my strength when I am weak; He is my fortress when I feel the walls crumbling around me. Thank you, Lord Jesus!
I haven't been on here in such a long time, and there is so much to share.
First, we passed court on March 7th!!! Finally...after 3 tries and 6 weeks after our first court date. It was on a Monday, so we knew that sometime while we slept on Sunday night, our case would be opened once more in Ethiopia..not sure I slept much that night. With news that Ethiopia may drastically slow down adoptions, we anxiously waited for our agency to open Monday morning and hopefully have some news. Thankfully, B called as soon as possible. Rejoice! Praise God, we passed!
Second, more good news came on Tuesday, March 22. B called to let us know that all our paperwork had been submitted to the US Embassy on Monday. Wow! That all happened so quickly, and we felt the we were finally on our way to bringing our little girl home!
Third, B called on Wednesday, March 23 to let us know that the US Embassy did not clear us and wants clarification on one of Sunshine's documents and wants to meet with Sunshine's birthmother. Disappointment and tears soon followed that call....not only for us (another delay, I think we've hit every delay possible) but also for Sunshine, who doesn't need to be in an orphanage any longer (she has been in an orphanage now for at least 9 months), and also for Sunshine's birthmother. I can't imagine how she must be feeling through all of this. A meeting with Sunshine's birthmother was scheduled for Monday, March 28th...which was yesterday. We have prayed that God would protect her heart and provide her with His peace, that she would be able to travel to the US Embassy quickly and safely, and the Embassy would be able to get all the answers they need to clear our case.
So today I'm praying we hear some good news soon and we'll be able to bring Sunshine home. I don't have a time line, as I've learned throughout this whole journey that my timeline is not always God's, but I continue to trust Him. Thank you, Lord, for being with us through it all!
Today our little Sunshine is 10 months old!!! I can't believe it! It's been almost 5 months since we saw her beautiful little face for the first time. I love her more and more each day and can't wait until the day we get to bring her home. Our next court date in on Monday...5 more days. It's been 6 weeks since we last held her and we are hoping and praying we'll get to go back soon. There are two other families that we traveled with on our first trip who are also still waiting to pass court to go get their little girls. Please continue to pray that we all pass!!
After we didn't pass the second time, I put everything away, all the suitcases, and all our travel things. It was just too hard to walk by it every day. As Monday approaches, I'm getting more and more excited. Last night we picked up the crib that some wonderful friends are loaning to us. I want so badly to set it up but have decided to wait until Monday....to celebrate our good news...hopefully. I also got a great package in the mail yesterday. What do you think???
I can't wait for Sunshine to wear these!!! Look how long her hair has gotten!!! I love it!!!
I think she has the most gorgeous hair!!! A family who just traveled over to meet their little girl for the first time was gracious enough to take a couple of pictures for us. She has even gotten several teeth since we last saw her. These pictures have been such a blessing for us. So thankful for them.
We are so thankful that God has given us this privilege to be Sunshine's parents, and we are also thankful for the prayers of so many friends and family through this whole time. Thank you!!!
We were so excited when Chesswava came home from cheer with this on her phone! This is something she has been working for off and on for the past 3 years!! She got her round-off, flip-flop, back tuck! We would sign up for 8 week sessions at the gym when she wasn't too busy and she'd go for an hour a week. They would look beautiful on the tumble track (which is like a long, narrow trampoline) and then try it on the floor and not get anywhere. She would get so frustrated. She has been so busy since the fall that we have not signed up for anymore sessions. But her cheer coach this last month has been having optional tumbling practices, and Chesswava has been going and she got it! I asked her last night, so....what was the difference...why did you get it this time. Her response, "I think it was because I really wanted it this time." I had to laugh. This girl says the funniest things sometimes. Anyway, Great job, Chesswava!
Today I start the process of updating our homestudy and sending a letter to USCIS to get fingerprints done again. Our homestudy expires in April and fingerprints in May. I can't say I'm really excited about having to do this...but I know it's worth it in the end. We are so ready to get Sunshine home and are not willing to take a chance in another delay!
We found out Friday morning that we did not pass court again. We were rescheduled for March 7th. Although my heart mourns the fact that we have to wait longer to bring R home and tears still flow unexpectedly, I have found joy in my Lord and Savior. I have been so blessed by words of encouragement and have felt prayers of many who have lifted us up. I have been talking with my Savior and have been reading and meditating on His Word and have found great peace.
Psalm 46:1-3,7a,10 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and mountains quake with their surging.....The Lord Almighty is with us....Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
God, You are my strength! I will not fear the "what ifs" This journey is not about me. This journey is about bringing glory and honor to You. Lord, may you be exalted on high in our journey.
Proverbs 3:5,6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
I trust you, Lord! Even when I don't understand!
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Lord, thank you for loving me and carrying me through this hard time.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose.
Father, all your ways are perfect and good. I know you called us to adopt and You will work everything out for good.
James 1:2-4,12 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perserverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything....Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
Lord, we have faced many trials in the last year and a half, but I will keep my eyes are on you. I trust you. My reward is not here. My reward is eternal life, that I have received through faith in my Lord, Jesus Christ.
This is only a portion of the comfort I have received from meditating on God's word in the last 3 days, but my hope is that it will provide comfort for others who may be going through a hard time.
Well, after three days off for our big blizzard, my children are actually excited to go back to school. They are old enough to realize that every day that school is canceled, an extra day gets tacked on at the end of the year, and they DO NOT want that. They did get a chance to enjoy the time off and play in the snow! I love when they are home.
The last day of our trip to Ethiopia was bittersweet. I cherished the time we were able to spend with R, and I was excited knowing we would get to see our children at home soon. I had really missed them. The hard part was knowing the minute I woke up, this would be the day we would have to say goodbye to our sweet R. When we started on this journey, we were anticipating taking one short trip to go pick up our little girl and bring her home. But half-way through the process, things changed and now we need to go twice...once for our court date and once for our embassy appointment and to bring her home. We were able to spend a lot of the day at Hannah's Hope. We spent the day just playing and playing some more...trying to soak in enough of R to last until we could come back to pick her up. It was so hard leaving knowing we hadn't passed court and not having a time frame to focus on. There are so many changes and unknowns in the adoption process, but God has been through it with us each step and He continues to carry me through. I am so thankful for His love and protection...I know He is watching over R while we cannot be there and I trust Him.
This all brings me to the fact that while we tried to sleep last night, our second court appointment occurred. There is no way of knowing if the missing letter made it to court this time, until we get a call from our agency letting us know if we passed or not. It's in God's hands and I have to trust Him. Whatever the news today, I will praise Him. Without Him, none of this would be happening. I will cling to his words in Jeremiah 29:11;
For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Had to take little break from journaling our trip because our baby girl is 9 months old today. Happy Nine Months R! We love you and are praying for great news on Friday and that we will be able to bring you home as soon as possible!! We got a call on Monday that R is sick and on medication. It's hard knowing she is sick half way across the world and not be able to hold her and take care of her. Praising God is that she is at HH where she is getting great care. So many of the children are sick. I'm just praying that we all can get them home soon. Here is another photo from our trip...R's sisters can't wait to get her home so they can do her hair. Loving all the curls!!!
The other exciting news at our house was that T1 officially signed with Georgia Tech this morning!!
He is so excited and we are for him. He has worked so hard to get to this point, but we have to give all the glory to God! Without Him, none of this would have happened. It's so amazing to hear the story about how T1 got to this point...a story I never grow tired of hearing. God worked out all the details and everything fell into place. Atlanta, here we come!!!!
It will be 2 weeks ago tomorrow that we attended our first court date. We got up that morning thinking that we would spend the morning at Hannah's Hope and then attend court in the afternoon, but also realizing after what happened with the families the day before, our court time might change. We went downstairs to wait for our ride and soon found out that, yes, our court time was changed and we would be going straight there in the morning. I was nervous only because I wasn't sure what to expect. I didn't have any fear of "not passing". The traffic in Ethiopia is something I've never experienced! It seems like there are no "rules of the road" and it's just "survival of the fittest". I'm so glad I wasn't driving. It's incredible to me that there are not more accidents, but all went well and we arrived for our court appointment safely and on time.
We walked up four flights of stairs to a waiting room, filled with people, sitting and standing along the four walls and spilling into the center as all the wall space was filled. There we waited and waited some more as some people were called to another room and then would leave after 5 - 10 minutes. Waiting....can you believe it? That seems to have become the theme word for this whole process. We were finally called...and not just B and me, but our whole group at one time...six families. We entered a small room with the judge sitting at her desk at the opposite end of the room. She went through a series of about five yes or no questions to which we all answered at the same time and that was it. There was then some conversation between the judge and the person from AGCI with us, to which he was then looking through his calendar, and then it was over. We were ushered back into the big room where we were all asking, "what just happened??" It was then that we found out that we did not pass. A piece of paper that MOWA was supposed to send to court, did not get sent.. So we were scheduled for another court date...February 4th. Over 2 weeks away!!!Sadness and disappointment slowly crept into my heart...which I am still dealing with...some days more than others. Fortunately, three of the families got rescheduled for today. I'm sad we still have to wait until Friday, but praying that MOWA letter has made it to court and those three families pass today. I don't want anybody feeling the way I do right now.
After court, we were able to go back to Hannah's Hope. R's birthmom attended court the same day and AGCI was able to arrange for us to meet her. What a blessing. Yes, I was nervous, not sure how I would handle it or what exactly I would say. But as soon as I walked in the room, all I felt was a deep love and respect for this woman. She had chosen to give R life and then had made a huge sacrifice of letting her go. I won't go into any details, as this is R's story to share some day if she chooses.
We were then able to spend the afternoon with R...we are so blessed. She is so full of life. So full of personality...an entertainer. She knows how to make everyone laugh...amazing for a little one so young. It felt so good to smile and laugh after such an emotional morning. We love her so much!
Although it's very hard to wait AGAIN, I will choose today to trust God and His timing. He has all the details worked out. I love a schedule...I love to have each minute planned out...but sometimes my "plan" is not His. You'd think that I'd have learned that by now through this whole process...but I'm a slow learner...very slow.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Prov. 3:5,6
This was the one day we had nothing on our schedule. Our whole group actually loaded in the vans to head over to Hannah's Hope to spend some time with our kiddos. Half of our group was scheduled to go to court in the afternoon. When we walked in the gates of HH, all the babies are in the court yard. It didn't take long to find R sitting in a bumbo. If R were not in this, she would be all over the place. She knows how to get places with her army crawl! A few minutes after we arrived, the staff at HH got a call saying that the group that was scheduled to go to court in the afternoon, needed to leave right away as their court time had been changed. And the rest of us were told that we needed to go shopping (one of the activities they plan for us) because they were not sure we would have time to go another time. So after saying a quick "hi" and "bye" to R, we were off to the market.
It was so different than shopping here at home. Each shop was no bigger than my walk-in closet with merchandise covering the walls, floor to ceiling. Some shops were so small that you could walk in, do a 360 and you'd see everything. Every shop had pretty much the same thing and there were no prices on any items. So we would ask the shop owner how much they wanted for an item we were interested in and then we could barter, which I'm not very good at. It also paid off not to buy anything until we had looked in every shop and talked to many about prices because some shop owners would start at a lower price than others. I was amazed at how good their English was. We ended up only buying a couple dresses for R and something for each of our kiddos at home.
After shopping, we went back to the hotel for lunch and then were able to return to Hannah's Hope. We got to spend some more time with R. We got to read books. R loves to turn the pages! And we just played. R has the best belly laugh and smiles most of the time. She loves to bounce and is constantly jabbering and making noises. We will not have a quiet house when we finally get to bring her home...which is perfect for us! We also got to spend some time with the older kiddos at Hannah's Hope. They are all so sweet. We brought a basketball with us and Bill had fun spinning the ball for them and then helping the kids do it too. We would like to bring them all home with us!
We were so excited to get to Hannah's Hope to see R again and spend as much time as possible with her. We started out our day with a meeting with the director of Hannah's Hope to fill some paperwork and then we were scheduled to spend time with our little ones until 1pm, which I was so sad about having so little time there. But as we started to figure out quickly, schedules are not in concrete in Ethiopia. We were able to spend most of the afternoon with R. We got her feed her solids, which I found out was a mixture of rice cereal, carrots, sweet potatoes, and flax seed. We also got to give her a bath. She loves baths! She splashed and splashed...so fun! She even would tip her head back when I would pour water over her - so smart!!! I also got to feed her a bottle...so sweet!! It seemed like she was used to holding her own bottle, but I think she really enjoyed me holding it for her and singing to her. She really studies our mouths when we talk and often tries to mimic the sounds we make. She also loves to grab our noses and play with my hair. We love her so much already. I refuse to let my mind think about the fact that we will have to leave in a few days.
After our time at HH, we were then able to visit Bethzatha, an orphanage that R and many other children that come to HH have spent some time at. There were so many beautiful children there. We came right before their supper time, so the older children (probably ages 2 - 9yrs) were all in this cramped little room, with the younger ones sitting around a long table and the older ones sitting along the wall and a couple other small tables. They were so excited to see us. They all longed to be held and loved. If we could have brought them all home, we would have. Bill and I spent a lot of time just loving on those little ones, not wanting to have to leave them, praying that each one of them will find their forever family soon...knowing in that moment, we would need to do more...be their voice. Before we left, we were able to run up and peek into the infant room...precious little ones.
The next thing we had planned for the day was our cultural dinner. What a great experience! We were able to experience Ethiopian food, music, and dancing. A lot of the food is spicy so I was not able to eat a lot of it, but there were several things that I was able to eat. It was a great day with many memories that I will some day be able to share with R.
Day 1 - We started our day off getting up at 3am to catch our flight out of Chicago at 6am. We had driven up to Chicago the night before so we wouldn't have to get up even earlier. Our flight left Chicago on time and before we knew it, we were in Washington DC! After a couple hours of waiting, we were finally on our plane to ET. The fun thing was that there were 2 families from AGCI sitting right behind us and another a few more rows back. After a long flight, we arrived in Addis Ababa around 8:45am and found there were 2 more AGCI families on our flight! We were able to get through customs and get our luggage pretty easily and were on our way to the hotel. After checking in, we got our schedules for the week and were disappointed to find out we wouldn't be going to HH. But as we started to learn throughout the week, the schedules aren't always set in stone. Wass showed up and told us he'd take us over to Hannah's Hope around 2PM. JOY!!! So much nervous energy! We took our bags up to our rooms and got ready to go meet our daughter. It's a short drive to Hannah's Hope and we were finally there...standing outside the gates.
It wasn't long before we got to walk up the marble steps to R's room. We walked in and there she was!!!!
She greeted us with the biggest smile and then started to jabber and squeal. Everything about her is beautiful...her smile, her eyes, her nose, her cheeks, her tiny little hands and feet, her curls.... O how I wish I could show more....
We spent the next couple hours with her and the time flew. I couldn't believe when we heard it was time to leave. Oh how I wish we could take her with us. But then it was off to rest for another full day.
We are home from Ethiopia. It's so hard to describe how I feel right now. I so missed our children at home and am so happy to be back home with them, but part of my heart is back in Ethiopia. I really wish we could have brought our baby girl home. Leaving her there on Wednesday was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do. One thing I have learned through this whole process is to put my trust in my Heavenly Father. I know He will watch over her and I know He has brought her to a place (Hannah's Hope) where she is loved and will get the best care until we can return. I know all that, but honestly, my heart still hurts and longs for her to be home.
It was a wonderful trip and I will try to post about our trip a little each day. Ethiopia was wonderful. The people are beautiful and kind. We got to experience and see many things. The reason for this trip was to meet our daughter and go to court. Unfortunately, we did not pass court. Actually, WE passed court, but a piece of paper from MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) did not get delivered to court so our court date was rescheduled for February 4th. We do not have to be there for that date. Please pray that the letter gets to the courts and we pass and get a quick embassy date. I want to bring R home ASAP!
Bill and I will have been married for 23 years. He is the love of my life and I thank God every day for him. We have 6 children, ages 22, 20, 18, 16. 10, and 4. Our family is in many different stages of life with three in college, one in high school and our youngest two at home. I am a home schooling mama who loves God and my family. We will be bringing home our 7th child very soon....a sweet 6 year old little girl.