Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers

Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers

Thursday, December 8, 2011

7 of 7 - Other things of note:

As I type these I am on the first leg of the flight and I feel like I'm on one of those hidden camera TV shows where unknown actors try to get you to yell or cuss at them or they pay you. I was stuck between a guy whose halitosis is strong enough to seep through his cheeks and a guy who has a rash on his face that itches. Thankfully bachelor number one is being amused by an inflight movie and bachelor number two has decided to quarantine himself entirely under his blanket. On the downside he snores. And both passengers apparently need the whole armrest plus the four inches that ends at my flanks.

Ethiopia is one of the most beautiful places. The countryside is serene and goes on for feels like forever.

The shower downstairs at the guest house has two settings: freshly melted arctic glacier water or Satan's teapot.

You can buy OxyContin over the counter but finding a throat lozenge is nearly impossible. Three different times we walked into the grocery store where there is glass case FULL of FreeGels, which is Amharic for Halls. Every time they told us no one was there to work the counter. Morning and night. "No one is here" they would say pointing behind the counter. Yes, I realize that Sherlock but do you think since you're not doing anything you could hand me one or two packs of those menthol candies??? No chance.

Solomon likes futbol, Aresenal Club and the color blue. He wants a bike. He takes care of Eyasu a lot. He pesters him some too. He can go from stoic to silly faster than you something that doesn't take long to do. My prayer for him is that he relinquishes his leadership role over the kids that has been thrust upon him and is able to enjoy being a boy while he still can. I want him to ride bikes and play sports and be silly. Later on I want him to be a leader agin. One who cares for and serves others in the name of Christ.

Rahel loves music. Her favorites are going to be a problem: Rihanna, etc. I may have gotten her hooked on Lecrae. she like the color blue. She speaks very softly and is timid with her English but I think she understands better than any of them. She would love to have an iPhone. She's hopeful. I'm doubtful. My prayer for Rahel is that she would trust me to guard her heart and protect her. I hope she allows me to be a part of her decisions. From who is worthy to marry all the way down to the music she chooses to listen to.

Yoseph is a singer with a beautiful voice. His face fills with joy when he sings. I love to hear him talk. I love when he says "papa". He likes karate and is really quite strong. He doesn't demand attention but always welcomes it. He'd like an iPad. Not happening anytime soon. I pray Yoseph would use his incredible gift to honor God. I pray his kind heart is protected until we can bring him home. I hope God will sustain his joy and that it will overflow onto those who are around him.

Eyasu is the funny monkey. He is 90% silly and 100% sweet. And he will be a handful. He kisses me on both cheeks and the forehead several times a day. Sometimes my hand, or my neck, or my hair gets sugar too. He likes to cuddle and craves attention. He also likes anything his older siblings are doing. For Eyasu I ask God to guard his heart from bad influences. Keep him childlike even through adultlike circumstances. I hope his sense of humor and love of fun fuels our entire family for decades to come.

They all have such gentle spirits. I'm sure there are times they get at each other but you can tell they genuinely love one another. Going through what they've gone through together yields a wonderful closeness. Mostly I pray they would all become what God intends for them- His children, adopted finally and eternally into His family.

Ethiopian coffee can be used as an alternative fuel source. I'm quite certain one gallon could power a New York city block for 72 years. It's good stuff. I dread going back to the flavored water you all are currently suffering through.

New update on bachelor number two. He is now using our shared armrest as support for his buttocks. I'd take a picture but the other passengers would think odd thoughts.

When I was waiting to be called in for court I met a coule adopting three little girls. They actually have a ministry there in Addis. It's called Transformation Love. They work with the outcast at Cora. If you'd like to know more about Cora and how you can help check out their website. It's a Christ-like thing they are doing and I'm certain some of you reading this are feeling a tug that direction.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

6 of 7 - Last day (Thursday):

As I board the plane the clean air is refreshing and missed as it is not found in Addis. But there is an ache, my kids are not with me and I will not see them for too long. We packed our things in a mad rush because we remembered our flight time incorrectly. By "we" I mean "I". I thought it was 8:30pm when in fact it was 7:30pm. When we got to the guest house from returning the kids to the orphanage the ladies were preparing the coffee ceremony in full. We observed it in passing, offering as much time and genuine curiosity as our crisis would allow. The coffee was truly the best I've ever had. In a coffee ceremony they start with fresh green coffee beans and end with piping hot coffee that would make the naked Starbucks lady ball up into the fetal position and weep. They roast the beans over coals, grind them in a bowl-thing with a nob-thing both of which I'm sure have names. With fuel in our belly we rushed to and through the airport and made it with an hour to spare. Better to be safe than sorry. But I'm getting ahead of my self. Let's talk about the day.

Today was a good last day. Last night was the first full night of sleep I got. By full I mean I only had to wake up to blow my nose and drink water and cough a few times. Donnie and I had breakfast together at the guest house. Fresh scrambled eggs, bread, and coffee that could walk. It's thicker than Ving Rhames and about the same color. I think the coffee would win in arm wrestling though. They make it fresh every morning by going through the steps in the coffee ceremony only probably less ceremoniously.

We went shopping at lots of little...inlets? The people were very pushy, like at The Buckle. We bought Solomon and Rahel some shoes that didn't fit to replace the ones that didn't fit. I'll come back to that. We bought traditional garb for me and Jessica and all the kids, Evie included. It'll be asurprise. I'm really excited about this! We bought coffee pots, daggers, wooden animals, and other similar essentials. I also bought these cool bracelets made of leather, rope, and beads. Jessica has been looking for something for us all to have, to create unity and a sense of family. I think it's a good idea. When I presented it to them later in the day, I showed them I had one for mommy and Evie. They laughed at the idea of Evie wearing it. Maybe we'll attach it to her car seat. Alozar, our driver, is bargaining like a champ. I can't understand what is being said but I'm quite sure he works these shopkeepers.

On our way to get the kids we saw the saddest thing I have seen to date: Cora(sp?). It is a trash heap that stretches for what would be several city blocks, maybe a mile. There are buzzards circling overhead, eyes alert looking for food. The stench is unbearable, like nothing you could imaging. And there among this filth there are human beings in tattered cloths searching for anything edible. Some are old and decrepit. Some are mere children. Some have babies bound to their backs. All are outcasts, not welcome in the city. Banished here due HIV or aids or leprosy. They are the poorest of the poor. Is theirs the kingdom of Heaven. I pray so. I'll provide information on how to help in the last post titled "Other Things of Note".

Afterward we went to pick up the kids. They are glad to see us. I am sad it is our last day but I'll try to stay upbeat. Solomon and Rahel try on their shoes and we head back to the market to trade them out. Solomon found some he liked and they cost a lot more. Alozar worked his magic and I paid a little more. I would've paid the first price asked. I love making my kids happy. That'll prove to be a problem I'm sure. We went back to Rahel's shoe store and they didn't have her size. The guy was getting loud and being ugly. Rahel seemed to be wilting; she is uncomfortable. I just want to pay whatever and get her out of here. I interrupted the verbal battle and told Alozar to make sure Rahel is ok. He said she told him she doesn't want to cause me any trouble. It's no trouble sweetheart. I want to provide for you. All of you. Alozar wants him to let us return them for a refund since he doesn't have a decent shoe in her size. She found some and said they were ok but I know she doesn't like them. Plus the guy wants 100 more bir(?), roughly five dollars. I don't want to pay more for a shoe she doesn't like. I would've gladly paid more if she liked them but I wanted her to be pleased. He ended up giving us back a little more than two-thirds of what we paid and we went elsewhere. She quickly found some other shoes and we were on our way to the guest house. Just as a side note, she wasn't being picky. All the guy had in her size heels and flats and loafers and such. She needs tennis shoes.

We walked up to Kaldi's for lunch and ice cream, which in Amharic is ice cream. We laughed and gave our best shot at communication. Eyasu lapped at his ice cream like a puppy. It was fun. On our way back to the guest house we took pictures and held hands and laughed. As I type this the recent memories of laughter brings bitter sweet tears. The joy of my time with them, passing court, and thoughts of the return trip. The bitterness of the distance and time that will soon lay between us.

At the guest house we realize our flight leaves an hour earlier than we thought. That means we have to pack up and return the kids. We won't have much time at the orphanage to kiss all the other kids goodbye. I think the only regret of the whole trip is on the ride back to the orphanage. Yoseph sat on the front seat and I didn't get to hold him and love on him for those last few moments. I sat in the back with my arm around Rahel and Eyasu in my lap listening to music on my iPhone. After awhile I moved up to sit with Solomon. We talked as best we could. Smiles and laughter communicate a lot. Eyasu moved up after a few minutes and started a tickle fight between the three of us. It was great fun. I just pray Yoseph didn't feel left out.

Arriving at the orphanage I kissed them and held them tightly before we went in the gate. In there all the kids want your attention. Once inside I gave all our leftover candy to the workers to distribute as they wanted to. They may eat all, I don't know. I gave the kids some Starburst and a glow bracelet. Rahel led me to her favorite spot, the baby room, again. It was there she started crying. With the workers we took pictures, most of them revealing Rahel's sadness. I didn't break until we headed back down the stairs. I had gathered myself once we reached the bottom (it's a lot of steps). I lost it again with the final hugs. I whispered in my kids ears that I'd be back to get them. God, please speed.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." Jesus said that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

5 of 7 - Day 4 (Wednesday):

The sore throat and stuffy head is getting the best of me. I fake it all day as best as possible in front of the kids and crash hardcore at night. It's like Jekyll and Hyde. During the day I'm the nice one. I don't think I'm stark raving mad at night, just quiet.

Today we pick up the kids and take them to what's known as the gorge. It's similar to the grand canyon. Maybe not quite as big but certainly grand in its own right. It was a few hours drive to get there. As we drive Solomon lets us know that the countryside reminds him of their home, Waliso. It gives me some satisfaction knowing something new about my children. On the way we play games on the iPad and talk and stare out the windows. It is breathtaking. There is a shepherd boy that can't be older than five. I know I often exaggerate (it makes for good writing), but not this time. He is a tiny little thing with some sort of cane whip in his hand and no adult in sight. And you can see for miles out here.

Once we arrive at our destination we eat traditional Ethiopian food. Another joy is watching my kids eat. They're so good at it! I'm admiring myself having not dropped anything in my lap and then it happens. (sigh) The red meaty chili-like substance seeps into the fibers of my new jeans and I glimpse my materialistic nature. I'm seated at a table with one of my best friends and my oldest four children in a landscape of God's amazing artistry and I'm focused on my jeans. Shame on me. I turn my attention back to my kids and won't look at the stain again.

The view is amazing. We are sitting 10 feet from an indention in the earth large enough to lose Rhode Island in. Sorry RI, you always get picked on for being small. Words are lost on moments like this. The food is great. The company is best of all. My kids come alive in the outdoors. Maybe it's the tremendous amounts of pollution in the city. Maybe it's the high walls of the orphanage. I don't know but my heart longs to free them once and for all. Don't get me wrong the orphanage is not a terrible place. It's actually pretty nice by Ethiopian standards. But it's still an orphanage. Dozens of kids but very little room to play. Lots of caring nannies but no parents. It's still an orphanage.

After we were done eating we make our way down to the Portuguese Bridge. It's a bridge built of clay and ostrich eggs over 400 years ago. I don't know. That's what they tell us. It looks like archaic cement to me. It's a rocky walk with changing slopes and shifting stones to get down to it. I take the opportunity to hold my daughter's hand. She is wearing flip like a girl. Solomon and Yoseph are way ahead of us, scaling the terrain like surefooted mountain goats. We cross the bridge and make our way down to the pools of water. The older boys bound ahead making for some difficult leaps for little Eyasu and flip-flopped Rahel. I am happy to help them across the difficult jumps. I hope they'll always trust papa to help them across the difficult jumps. Rahel reaches down into one of the pools and attempts to splash Solomon and Yoseph. She missed with the majority of the water but it still got their attention. We laughed and frolicked. Frolicking is fun when you have good frolickers with you. No one should frolick alone. Back up to the top and a few last pictures in front of the beautiful gorge and we are on our way back.

Part of the way back I listened to music with Rahel and then moved to sit with Solomon and Yoseph. They fell asleep in my lap. It occurred to me that I don't have enough lap space. I'll have to work on that. We drop them off and head to the guest house and on to dinner at Lime Tree. Donnie will have the veggie pizza and ginger lime tea. I'll try what he had last night, margherita pizza with a sprite to wash it down. It actually took two sprites to wash it down. I don't recommend the pizza at Lime Tree. I tried to redeem the meal buy having piece of cake. Not a good idea. The cake was mealy and dry. If an establishment can't do pizza decently there's a good chance their cakes wouldn't win any awards. Now on to our nightly routine at Jupiter hotel for wifi conversations with friends and family. Donnie will have a pot of coffee and I will drink two glass bottled Sprites. Always a good ending.

Monday, December 5, 2011

4 of 7 - Day 3 (Tuesday):

Well, by now you probably know we passed court! But what you don't know are the details and a wiseman once said "the best tales are in the details". Actually I just made that up.

I pull myself up after very little sleep. I'm excited and scared about court. And I've got a terrific cold to accompany me. Yay. I'll devour breakfast with a bunch of other house guests. Eggs, bread, and that amazing Ethiopian fresh brew. I let Donnie sleep because I may have kept him up throughout the night hacking. Turnabout's fair play; he used to snore like sawing logs.

Dereje wasn't there and that made me a little nervous. I heard so many good things about him, I really wanted him there. He knew our case and I had some questions. They sent a replacement. Blah. We didn't see eye to eye. He was an inch taller than me.

Court was a bit anticlimactic. We're in a room full of foreigners trying to adopt kids and are being called in in groups according to the orphanage we are adopting from. Ours was near the end. The room was almost cleared by the time we were allowed into the mysterious single grey door. Inside are two desks and three ladies. The one in charge rattles off something in what I assume is Amharic while the other two write furiously. The lady in charge was beautiful in a strong governmental sort of way, like Lady Liberty or Judge Judy (see sarcasm). She was a softer Condoleeza. She asked a few questions of me and the other couple "Have you read up on international adoption?...Do you know a bit about Ethiopian culture?...Will you allow the children to know their heritage?...Is your family supportive of this adoption?...Do you understand that this is final when I sign this paper?" In the end Condi said everything was in order for us and we passed. I guess I expected song and dance, but a graceful nod and smile will suffice.

We are headed back toward the guest house stopping at several locations to try and find some throat lozenges. This is no small task in Ethiopia. I've been told twice now that they are no longer on the market. Two gentlemen in line in front of me at one pharmacy are purchasing OxyContin and Loratabs over the counter. They can buy narcotics but I can't purchase menthol-flavored candy? What gives?

I met with Dereje that afternoon. He is very nice. Explained everything. Answered questions. Completely patient. It was a little weird that he was wearing a scarf when it was over 80 degrees outside but whatever floats your boat.

On our way back to the guest house, yet again, and this time in need of a nap. We slept about an hour and then head to the orphanage to visit the kids for a bit. I'm excited to tell them the good news of our passing court. I'm not sure if they understand the process all that well but certainly my excitement is evident. I spent much of my time in the baby room with Rahel. Donnie played downstairs with lots of kids. I knew I needed to and wanted to go back down and spend time with others but it's hard to get away when one of your kids is enjoying you so. We hung our heads out of the top floor window. She shouts greetings at people she knows (and maybe some she doesn't) down on the street and she pointed out different buildings visible from there. There's quite a lot one can see from the fourth floor of the orphanage.

Alas, it was time I had to go. We went back down a couple of flights and met Solomon on his way up. They brought me into the playroom where Rahel's best friend was watching a movie. We stayed there for a while. Solomon and I went onto the balcony and talked before returning to the bottom to rejoin the others. We played a bit longer and then left. Court and all it entailed ate a good piece of the day.

For dinner we are trying Lime Tree. I'll have the spaghetti with a ginger lime tea. The spaghetti is quite good. Nothing extravagant but good cafe style spaghetti. The ginger lime tea is strong enough to remove paint from the wall. It burns my sore throat in a really good way. We'll come back here tomorrow night, drawn by this tea, yet our experience will not be the same.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

3 of 7 - Day 2 (Monday):

There are about 5 families at the guest house and one of the guys I met at a conference a few months ago. He's here picking up his little boy. Seeing a familiar face 9,000 miles from home is strange as it is delightful. People gather for breakfast or maybe sit and chat on the porch or in the living area throughout the day. It's a fun atmosphere and some wonderful people. I didn't make it to breakfast every morning. I blame the cold that kept me up several nights.

I was ready to spend more time with my kids so we go to get them up from the orphanage to bring them to the guest house. We arrive at the orphanage and they are at school so we drive over to the school and they show us around. It is dilapidated. This is what I pictured the orphanage being like. Thank You God that it's not. Small cinder block rooms, 50 or 60 square feet, with concrete or dirt floors might have 10 or 12 babies sleeping in a pile. This is a day care. They are happy for me to meet theirteachers and I enjoy getting to see into a different part of their lives. Rahel was not at school; she was getting her hair done. Since we are going back to the orphanage to wait on Rahel the teachers send the rest of the kids with us so they won't have to walk back. It's about a five minute drive. That would make for a pretty long walk, not to mention the age of the children and the nature of the traffic. If you've ever been to a third world country you may have a grasp of the traffic. If not imagine New York with half of the streets being unpaved. The drivers obey less rules. Take away traffic lights. Add dozens of farm animals and you're getting close.

We are headed back to the guest house with our four lovely children in tow. Donnie and Yonatin walk back up to get lunch for all of us. In the meantime,
Solomon is playing basketball with Kilintin (Clinton), another young man being adopted who is with his soon to be family at the guest house. Eyasu and Yoseph kick the soccer ball around or rock in the chair on the front porch. I call them all together and give them their clothes that Jessica sent. All fits well
except Solomon’s and Rahel’s shoes. Bummer. Papa will fix it. Still waiting for the food, Yoseph wanted to play a game so I got out Jenga. We play for a little
while and then I let Gavatchu (Clinton’s brother) take my spot. Rahel is hanging out with the ladies that stay behind the guest house. I don’t quite know how all this works but they cook and clean and watch kids. They are super sweet. She is enjoying talking to them so I don't want to pull her away. I am jealous. I wish I could carry on these conversations with my kids that other people have. The communication is not quite there yet. One day. Soon.

The food arrived. Donnie and I have pizza or something like it. It has some strange shredded meat on it. I force myself to eat a couple of pieces. It's not that bad. I am enjoying watching my kids eat. Yonatin picked out some traditional Ethiopian food for the gang. They are really enjoying it. I love having a meal with them. It is a first. They laugh and talk and eat while I dream of us all being together around the table very soon. This all seems surreal. touched my pocket and said ‘phone?’ I knew I had the power to gain all their attention by allowing them to play games and music on my phone. But I had something better. I went to get the iPad and introduced them to Angry Birds. They played music on my phone and took rounds playing games on the iPad. After a little while I got paper and pens and colors and let them write letters and/or draw pictures for mommy. I colored four different pictures, one for each of them, that represented us as a family. I wrote essentially the same message on the back of each page: We love you so much. We are trying very hard to bring you home to us as soon as we can. Love, papa.

On the ride back to the orphanage they each have their own bench seat to themselves. I'm sitting next to Solomon. I ask, "Are you happy?” His response: yes. Then I ask if he wants to come live in the United States with us. Yes is again his answer. I move to each seat and ask the same two questions to each of the children and the answers are all the same. I kissed each one of them and spent a few minutes just sitting there with my arm around them. Rahel was on the last seat in the back. As soon as she said yes to coming to live with us she put her arm around my neck and pulled me in for a big kiss on the cheek. She beat me to it and I was so glad.

Tonight we have reservations to go have a traditional meal with a bunch of other adoptive families.

The restaurant is alive with music and dance. There's a guard at the door frisking the patrons. There must have been 30 of us in our group! The food was ok. Buffet style Ethiopian cuisine is probably better when you're with Ethiopians who can help you know what's what. Jenna, the girl next to me who is here with her brother who's adopting an astonishingly cute little boy, ended up with cow stomach on her plate. I almost ended up with the contents of my stomach on my plate. The music is great. A four-piece band playing instruments you've never seen and wearing traditional Ethiopian wardrobes is a sight and sound combination to take in. Add in traditional dancers and you've got a superb night. The male dancers are doing things with their shoulders that only high voltage electric shock can do. And the females do this head banging maneuver that combines 80's hair metal and a well worn bobble head doll. It would've put Willow Smith to shame.

Good day. Good night. Tomorrow is court.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

2 of 7 - Day 1 (Sunday):

I am very nervous meeting the kids for the first time. It is a different nervous than meeting Evie. A newborn has no expectations. But our oldest four, what will they think of me? Weak or strong? Sissy or sensitive? Stupid or funny? I received strong hugs from them all. It was a bit strange, not the hugs, but the meeting in general. There are so many kids here vying for attention. They're all so sweet. I want to love on all of them but I also desperately want time with my four. I gave a BlowPop to each child who was old enough to have one and also gave one to the nannies. Throughout the day Eyasu climbed all over me. He is very affectionate. Yoseph stays pretty near me as well. Solomon is hanging next to the wall. Rahel was slow to come downstairs to meet me, but she was the first one I saw. She was standing on the balcony awaiting my arrival (at least that’s what I’d like to believe). Someone told me she was changing clothes, "getting pretty" before she came down and saw me. She didn’t need to “get pretty”, she is gorgeous. Her hug was the longest and tightest of all.

We play a variety of games with all the kids. Some of the kids want to show off a trick or talent. Each of them wants your eyes on them. Finally I'm going to attempt to pull it all together by taking turns jumping rope with a few of them. They all laugh as I fail miserably to jump a rope that is a few feet too short for me. They all took turns showing off their jump rope skills; I showed my ineptitude. We did cartwheels and karate and I picked the kids up in the air, starting a trend that would have lasted indefinitely. I noticed Donnie was showing some pictures and videos to some of the older kids so I used that opportunity to give my arms a much needed rest. We gathered around my phone and looked at pics and vids of Evie and Jessica. The kids laughed out loud at Evie's sweet smiles and yawns and at Jessica’s video message to them. They mocked her saying “y’all”. That was priceless.

I notice Rahel is not around so I make my way upstairs to find her. I told her I want her to see some videos and pictures so she walked down the stairs with me. As we were descending I mustered up some courage and put my arm around her. I didn’t know how she would respond. She grabbed my hand and wrapped it tighter around her. She leaned her head into my chest and that’s the way we walked until we reached the bottom floor. It couldn’t have been better.

We watched most all of the videos and pictures again with Rahel and she beamed. I am still beaming from our walk down the stairs.

Friday, December 2, 2011

1 of 7 - Our trip there:

I'll preface this initial post with a disclaimer that the following several posts have not been thoroughly edited. I tried. I cried. So they are somewhat in their raw form...

Some wonderful friends who live in Houston drove across town to pick up our car so we wouldn't have to pay to park it for a week. See, Donnie rode to Houston with Jessica's parents and I drove me and Jess and Evie. In Houston I traded my wife and youngest child for a traveling partner. They rode to Louisiana with her parents, my car went with friends, and Donnie and I boarded the plane. The opposite transaction will occur upon our return.

It was all somewhat uneventful. I hate removing my shoes to walk on tiled airport floors. I'm a slight germ-a-phobe. All that will soon go bye bye. We left Houston around 6:30pm on black Friday flying to Dubai. It struck me at some point that we were leaving our country on a day drenched with materialism to travel to country where poverty abounds. We were in the air about 14 hours and landed at around 7pm on Saturday. Crossing time zones is weird.

Donnie and I have less than 12 hours in Dubai so we'll ride the Metro to the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa. Both are incredible sites. Look up the Burj tower. Crazy. We are staying at a hotel overnight in Dubai and will board a plane to Addis in the morning. Going from the airport in Dubai to the airport in Addis is serious transition. Someone is there to pick us up. He found us after only a few minutes and we were off to the guest house.

Drive time is very short so we didn't really see much of the city on that little trip but what we did see shocked us- at least some of it. I don't know if I expected the mountains. Rolling hills maybe but not full grown mountains. The land scape is beautiful. I also didn't expect the pollution. Jessica warned me. I didn't know the extent of it. We are talking about standing between a city bus and your grandpa's tractor on a windless day while they try to see who can rev their engine loudest. Burns the nostrils...and the throat...and the eyes. The rest I was prepared for. Hopefully one never gets used to seeing that level of poverty but I had seen it before in other countries I've visited. Animals and pedestrians on the street are nothing out of the ordinary in other parts of the world. One other thing was quite odd though. The trees there are purple. I'm kidding.

The guest house was close to what I thought it would be. Plain, humble, old, but clean. By the last day I will even allow my unshod feet to touch the floor. It is a gated two story house with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom downstairs along with a kitchen, dining, and living area. A spiral staircase leads to 3 more bedrooms and another bathroom plus a suite with its own bathroom. We are occupying the two downstairs bedrooms on each side of the bathroom. We're unloaded and ready to go meet the kids...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We passed court!!


There were many times over the past 9 months that I thought we would never be able to say this...We PASSED court today! Praise God!! The next step is our case will be submitted to the US Embassy for them to do their investigation to assure the kids meet their definition of true orphans before they give us clearance to bring them home. Thank you to all who have been praying for us during this process. Ryan's visit with the kids is going really well. I'll let you in on some comments from his trip so far:

Rahel is even more beautiful in person than she is in pictures.
He connected really well with them when he brought them to the guesthouse on day 2.
Eyasu used him as a monkey bar today.
They laughed out loud and smiled really big when they saw pictures and video of Evie.
Rahel shows everyone pictures of her little sister all the time.
Eyasu, our 4 year old little boy, wants a pink room.
When he told them that I loved them and missed them very much...Joseph said he misses me too! (Awe...break my heart!)
He has been able to talk with Solomon alot.
He asked each of the kids individually if they are happy and they all said yes and he asked them if they wanted to come and live with us in America and they said yes!!
One of the boys at the orphanage that is about 10 called Ryan papa the whole time he was there the first day and he didn't know what to say to him. (This breaks my heart...this young boy is a total sweetheart!!)

Ryan says he is diligently journaling so he will have even more to share when he returns!! So stay tuned.


Friday, November 11, 2011

odd or even

I know I just blogged a few days ago and I'm not due for another one for a couple months, but something's on my mind.

To give you a backdrop I'm reading Humility by CJ Mahaney. I should say I'm being wrecked by Humility by CJ Mahaney. I commend it to you if you struggle with issues of pride...and if you don't struggle with pride then you REALLY need to read it. I'm convinced pride is the ultimate foundation of sin. Just before I typed that last line I was googling for a quote on pride to make myself sound smart. (sigh) Anyway, I'm just giving you some insight into what's been going on in my life. I am not entirely sure what it has to do with what I intended to write here but it's what started coming out when I started typing. ...making the connection...making the connection...

This is like dial-up...

Mahaney gives some practical ways on developing humility and slaying pride. Some really good ways. One of the things he says is important is looking for and pointing out "evidences of grace" in others. In other words, we should look to intentionally see the imago dei, God's image imprinted on others. The Bible is quite clear on this matter and I won't go into a ton of background here. If you want more on this read the Bible and Mahaney's book. I need to get to what I came here for before I lose you.

I've been trying to see God's grace in others over the past week. It's quite alarming when I begin trying to turn your snide thoughts and snarky comments into life-building exhortations. I've started just by doing it in my head. Practicing. Lest I open my mouth and look like a fool (see pride).

I'm making the bridge. Are you walking with me?

This will sound at first like an aside. I promise it ties in. Let me be really honest. A time or two I have gotten frustrated at waking up in the middle of the night to a crying baby. I have snapped at Jessica once or twice. (I am tempted to type "due to lack of sleep" or some other excuse) There is no excuse. Really. There's not. Don't get me wrong I consider God's grace daily! I am immensely grateful for Evie. But it's easy to lose sight of God's grace. I forget to be thankful for things sometimes. My pride gets in the way. I like my sleep. And God's grace slips my mind. I've had Jessica all to myself for more than half my life. God's grace moves to the back and my pride and jealousy steps forward.

I've now started looking for evidences of grace, even Evie and Jessica. It's pretty easily found in them, the ones you love most. In the twilight hours one morning I was feeding Evie and praying for her:
Lord, thank You for her lungs and breath that wake me up. I ask that she would use her voice to lead others to You, to speak truth, and to stand up for the oppressed.
Thank You for her digestive system that seems to only make messes out of one end or the other. I'm not sure how her digestive system will honor you, but You made every bit of her and I pray she honors you with her whole being.
God, I thank you for her hands that always seem to get into the spit-up. Lord, may her hands always serve others and bring praise to You.

This may sound odd or even funny, but I need to give thanks for these things. Maybe you do too. I must preach these things to myself in order to keep a proper perspective. An amazing miracle happened in the Old Testament, one that often goes unnoticed. As the Israelites marched through the desert for decades God caused the Israelites clothes and shoes to not wear out! Can you imagine that?!? My shoes don't last 2 years, much less a deacde! Much less 4 decades! Do you think they gave thanks for their shoes? I don't think I've ever said "God, thank You for my shoes. Thanks that they stay in good shape." I forget the grace that's been given to me. I don't thank God often enough. I'm going to do better.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I'll be wrecked

I don't have tons of news, but I do have important news. Plus it's been a while since we've written anything and several of you have asked. Thanks for caring and keeping up.

I will be traveling to Ethiopia to go to court the end of this month. November 29th is our court date. Jessica will be staying home with Evie because we are not ready to leave her and go that far away yet and we certainly would not get on a sixteen hour flight with her. A great friend, Dr. Donnie Williams is traveling with me. He's not really a doctor, but I just made him one because he deserves it for this. It's not that I need someone to go with me, but it sure beats traveling alone! So, we'll be flying over the day after Thanksgiving and returning on the first Friday in December.

I finally get to meet our kids! I can't even play the video of them in my memory without tearing up at their voices calling me 'papa', so I'm quite sure I'll be wrecked when I see them. It's a swirl of emotion as you can probably imagine. Nervousness and excitement.

Well, a little about Evie. She probably weighs close to 9 pounds now and is great with nonverbal communication. All she has to do is sit back in her carseat while I carry her and she quite effectively informs me that I need to workout more. Jessica picks up on her cues far better than I. Jessica knows her so well. My heart is glad to watch Jessica mother. She is so good at it.

One last thing. Different people have asked about or commented on the fact that we are still adopting even though we had a child. Yes we are. For several reasons. God had placed a love for these kids deep into our hearts before Evie was born. Also, adoption has been the plan for a long time now. We were not adopting out of loneliness, guilt, obligation, or altruism. We are adopting because we are called in scripture to love people the way Jesus loves people. How does He love us? Up close and personal. Regardless of race or status or past. Deeply. So deep in fact that He gave His life to make us His. That is what Jessica and I are called to. To give ourselves fully and completely, not to a cause, but to children with names. David Platt said (at least I think it was him) orphans are forgettable until you know their names, see their faces, or hold them in your arms. There's so much truth in that. Before the dawn of time God knew your name and He had a plan from the beginning to make you His. Not because of anything special about you, but because He is good.

Caring for orphans and widows should be on the hearts and minds of all of God's children because were it not for adoption none of us would be His.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ryan may be in ET during the Christmas holidays!!

Our case has officially been submitted to court!!! I can't believe it finally happened. We should hear in mid-October when our court date is...we've been told it will likely be late December. One step closer...

Thank you so much to those who have faithfully prayed for this to happen!! We are so grateful.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Evie Update #2

She is getting stronger each day. We are starting to see her personality and some of her mannerisms: she likes to keep her hands by her face, she likes to suck her fingers and sometimes her thumb. She fusses at her feeding times. They're going to wait a few more days before trying to take her off the nasal cannula again. She is starting to take many of her feedings from the bottle which is one of her goals for discharge. When she is taking all feedings from the bottle she will get the feeding tube taken out!! Thank you for continuing to lift her in prayer! We are so thankful.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Evie update #1

Hey everybody,

First, I want to thank God for how well our little one is doing...He deserves all the glory!! Next, I want to thank all our family and friends who have been praying fervently for us...we have definitely felt covered in prayer!

So Evie had a big day yesterday...her bilirubin level stayed down so they were able to turn the bili light off! This is a big deal because we could only take her out from under the light for me to feed her and hold her a few times a day. Papa is really happy about this because he gets to hold her as long as he likes now...he was getting jealous that I was the main one to hold her since I needed to feed her. Speaking of feeding....they have been able to increase her feedings through the tube each day and were able to discontinue the IV yesterday!! She still has the nasal cannula for air flow to remind her to take deep breaths.

I was discharged from the hospital Monday but was able to stay in my room 2 more nights to feed her. But they needed my room for patients so I slept at home last night. My plan is to be at the hospital for the 8am and 11 o'clock feedings then go home to rest and be back for the 5 pm feeding.

I love being her mom! We both got to give her a bath last night...that was fun. All my days in labor and delivery and helping out in the newborn nursery are coming back to me. I make Ryan nervous...he thought I was scrubbing her head too hard...he's so funny! She is going to be so spoiled by him...he's going to be such a softie.. :-)

Things I've seen her do and interesting observations:
Sticking her tongue out
She sleeps with her hand just under chin, propped on her chest just like Ryan does.
Sleeps with her mouth open...also like Ryan. This may just be a normal newborn thing...

Well I've got to run to make it to her next feeding!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Our daughter they said we'd never have...

One of the biggest shocks of my life came in February of this year. Jessica said, "I think I'm pregnant." If I'm honest my heart sank. Not because I thought it was true, but because the love of my life thought it was true and I knew it could not be true. My heart broke because I knew hers soon would. As soon as she came to the realization that she was not pregnant or that something was wrong, I knew she would be devastated and embarrassed.

We kept it a secret dream for a while. We spoke in hushed tones, usually at night, about whether we really believed it could be true. We continually encouraged each other, "Don't get your hopes up." Both of our hopes were up but we wouldn't admit it out loud for fear.

We slowly allowed people to be a part of this little glimmer of hope that we might actually have a biological child. The whole thing was...a little uncomfortable. In some ways we had given up hope. Not in a we-might-as-well-stop-swimming-and-drown-in-our-own-sorrow kind of given up, but more of a we-always-wanted-to-adopt-and-this-is-obviously-God's-plan-for-us kind of way. I know this may strike some of you as odd, but we were completely fine with this. As a matter of fact we had somehow put away all of the thoughts of raising a newborn. It was no longer of any appeal really. We dove into learning about raising adopted children and all of the exciting things that go along with that process.

As the baby grew inside of Jessica the idea of a baby grew on me. As I watched her tummy expand so magnificently so did my desire for this unborn child. The whole concept of us actually having a tiny baby was just starting to set in. And we scheduled a birthing class to begin on August 21st which we never attended.

After Wednesday night youth service (8/17) Jessica found me talking with some friends and sternly said, "I need to talk to you." Great, what have I done this time? Did I not put the trash out or not put the milk up? Maybe some teen has a bone sticking out of his flesh after an accident in the gym. I followed her into my office where she was answering a call that I would soon figure out was her doctor.

She was having some contractions and was worried but they eased her mind, told her to go home and make an appointment in the morning. At the appointment they did a test that confirmed she was at risk for early labor and was told she was to be on a mild bed rest until further notice. She called her mom and cancelled the shower she was to have in West Monroe because she didn't want to risk the long travel. She asked if they bring down the baby stuff that Meredith (Jessica's sister) was providing. That Thursday night Jessica's dad awoke around midnight with a feeling that they needed to bring all that baby stuff down now. Her parents got up the next morning, made arrangements, and started the trek to Austin with baby supplies in tow.

Friday evening we called some good friends to see if they wanted to bring over dinner and hang out with us. They were busy. Fifteen minutes later Jessica's water broke.

"Uh, my water just broke! Bring me something." I didn't know what to bring. A bucket? A shop-vac? Oh. A towel. Right. Of course. Check. As I ran the towel to her, "Do you want me to call 911?!?" Stop laughing. I didn't know. But now I do. We loaded up and headed to the hospital. Jessica's parents were already half way to Austin.

Contractions were 3-5 minutes apart for a while. When we arrived the nurse reassured us, "They were able to hold me off for four weeks. Maybe you'll be the same." Soon we were hearing, "If we can just hold her off 48 hours..." Eleven hours later Evie was born. They tried to slow the process but the train had already left the station and there was no going back.

At about 9:30pm Jessica was in a great deal of pain and received a gift called an epidural from an angel she calls "Godsend". Her parents arrived around 10:30pm. Now that she was somewhat comfortable we had some sweet fellowship and maybe a quick nap.

We had a visit by a sweet NICU nurse who's job it is to paint a bleak picture of all of the worst case scenarios. She did good. This is the only time during the whole process where I had to take a seat and coach myself in breathing exercises that I was yet learn. She said to expect your child to be in NICU until her due date, October 13th. She talked about ventilators and really tiny babies. IVs in the head and lines into stomachs. Feeding tubes and various sicknesses. Good times.

Around 4am Jessica and I were taken into the delivery room. For an hour Jessica worked to push out our child and I worked to not faint. We both succeeded. At 5:03am we welcomed our daughter they said we'd never have into the world.

Evangeline Karis Walling was born at 32 weeks weighing 4lbs.4oz. and 17 inches long. She came out screaming and crying with no need of a ventilator. After 15 hours they removed the CPAP and replaced it with a small oxygen tube. And a short time later removed even that. She is so healthy and strong and beautiful.

Evangeline Karis. Her first name is a derivative of the Greek word 'euangelion', which is where we get the word 'evangelize'; to share the Good Message of Jesus Christ. And Karis is a transliteration of 'charis', or grace. All her days she will be a testimony of the good news of God's immense grace. May He be praised. He gives good gifts.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ryan's words

I wanted to post the following article Ryan wrote in his July newsletter for our students and their families at our church.

As I sit and type it is pushing 4am and sleep is probably still a good distance away for me. I am wired. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. I just got off the phone with my wife and four amazing Ethiopian children whom I’ve yet to meet in person. And that event has me quite alive at the moment.

During this past week, Jessica has been in Ethiopia and I have been an emotional wreck. Although not for the reasons you may think. Sure I miss my bride greatly, but that’s not it. And certainly I wish I were there to meet our children as well, but that’s still not what has caused my eyes to sweat so profusely. God has been teaching me something about His love.

The parallel between our adopting children and our adoption by the Father through the work of Christ (see Ephesians 1) had been brought to my attention sometime ago. Many thanks to Adopted For Life by Dr. Russell Moore. And the more this truth has had time to marinate in my brain the more real and breathtaking it has become. But this week something different had a hold of me. I was missing my wife and thinking of these children and the thought occurred to me that they don’t really know what it’s like here; what it will be like to live with me and Jess. All they know is what they’ve got and they don’t realize or understand yet what they will soon have. God grabbed this opportunity to help me know that I don’t really know what our inheritance is either. Understand that we are not merely saved from hell, death, and sin but we are saved to eternal life with the God who loved, created, and rescued us! We can’t really know all that awaits us or the depth from which we are being saved, but it is vast.

Jessica and I are going to great length to bring these kids home. We love them and are doing everything in our power to get them here with us. And it hit me this week, the great lengths that God went to save us! We are spending time, money and effort. Jesus gave His life! He left heaven. He left perfect community and walked among us so that by His tortuous death and glorious resurrection He might reconcile us to Himself. What an amazing thing!

I believe with all of my being that adoption is the clearest most beautiful picture of the Gospel that we have among us. Marriage is certainly a great picture of Christ and the church, as His bride. But adoption is a better picture only in that it is personal rather than corporate.

Maybe the most amazing part about it is that as beautiful as it is, it’s minute in comparison to His great love for us. We have chosen to love these four kids that we didn’t know. They’ve never wronged us. In our eyes they are innocent and deserve love. They are made in God’s image. Yet we, in our sinfulness, have transgressed an infinitely holy God and still He chose to love us, redeem us, and bring us into His glorious presence.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gotta start somewhere

4 year old's picture

8 year old's picture

13 year old's letter for Papa

Ok if you have been following Haley's posts..well you'll have to forgive me...I am not as gifted with story telling and phrasing as she is! I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts Haley and am so, so thankful to God that He sent her with me!! You are and were such a blessing to me!

I forgot to mention in my last post that J.(8 years old) was excited to share a song he knew in English...Father we all sang and did the motions for Father Abraham the first day we met. Precious memories I will forever treasure. I can totally see him being a worship leader...he is so animated and LOVES to sing and you can tell he means and believes what he is singing. Another song he loved to sing had the line "God is love" as the chorus. I wish I could show the video of him singing it but I am not allowed to just yet. Be day you will get to see it when they are officially Wallings!!!

Papa...they love Ryan and haven't even met him...I'm a little jealous...jk! Every time they see a picture of him they would exclaim "Papa". I showed them a short video clip from DNow where the youth girls are lifting Ryan up in the air and they thought that was so funny and wanted to watch it over and over. They wrote him a letter and drew pics for him. Ryan was able to speak to them on the phone briefly the last day I saw them. They were all smiles. We have it videoed. J. would say, "Papa I'm fine, you're fine?" It was adorable!

Our daughter grabbed my hand and said baby room...she took me to see the babies in the orphanage. So sweet...she also said on the way up the, no baby. I kind of mumbled under my breath...actually we are going to have a baby but she didn't hear me. That brings me to telling them about the pregnancy. I had our new friend Yonatan from the guesthouse tell them all in their language so they would understand and find out at the same time. Our daughter kept repeating the same phrase over and over and I asked what she was saying. Yonatan said she said, "You're lying" "Are you sure?" "Are you sure?" We both assured them yes I am having a baby. They started smiling big. When we asked what they thought, he said they are really excited and want the baby to be a girl. Haley asked S. if he wanted to be a big brother again and he said yes! Little man didn't say much about it but he's 4 I didn't think he long as he didn't break out in tears I was pleased.

I still can't believe I actually went to Ethiopia last week and met my kids!!

More to come,

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Made it home

Praise God I am home safely and healthy!! What a blessing this past week has been. I promise I have many stories to share with you all about our amazing kids. I just need some time to put my thoughts together. I am so glad my first full day at home will be spent worshiping my King in church today. More to come soon.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Can't stop smiling

Hey everyone,

Sorry I haven't posted more updates. But between jet lag, poor access to internet, and just not knowing where to start....but I've got to start somewhere right? Well I only slept 4 hrs after meeting them the first day...I woke up at 2:30 and all the thougts of them and our next meeting began. My mind was racing with with what I wanted to make sure I told them before leaving, among many other things. One of those things was circling up all the kids at the orphanage for prayer before leaving the second visit. So I did and my 2 older kids and a 10 year old sweetheart came and thanked me and hugged me afterwards and said God bless you. Oh break my heart! We have played with bubbles, beach balls, read Bible stories, put together a puzzle. I am so impressed with how much English my kids know along with others at the orphanage. 2 of my kids can understand most things I say and speak in phrases. Our daughter understands more than she can speak but she does a pretty good job too! Our 4 year old is a ham...he is so loving, he just held on to my face with his cheek pressed to mine the first day and then kisses your cheeks and forehead with such conviction. They are all very affectionate...which is common in their culture and I just love it. Our daughter plays with my hair and just giggles. They love to show off their English and their talents. They each sang a solo the first day I met them. I'm telling you these kids rock...they are going to fit in with us so well. Our oldest boy loves soccer and was hitting the beach ball like a volleyball and I explained to him that he was playing what we called volleyball and that papa is really good at volleyball and really like to play. He just lit up and began asking what my favorite sport is. They have told me their favorite colors and what they want to be when they grow up. I told them that Ryan is a pastor and they just smiled ear to ear and J. said "Yes!!" They ask if papa is coming each day but understand he will come and see them next time. I know I am all over the place but I just wanted to give you some tidbits of how wonderful my week has been. I can't believe its actually happening. God is so good! I am so thankful for this gift he has given me and don't understand why he picked me to be their mom but I am so honored. I am not worthy but He is. Thank you for all the prayers...I can feel them.

P.S. Becky....tell Rachel the kids loved getting her letters and gifts and lit up talking about her and Jordan. I really enjoyed being a part of that.

Love to you all from Addis,

Monday, July 4, 2011


I may post here several times this week in order to keep all who care abreast of happenings in Ethiopia as Jessica and our friend Haley are there visiting our kids. Actually, right now, as I type this they are at the orphanage. It's about 6:15pm there.

This is a special post. Haley's dad has been sick for a couple of months now and they aren't quite sure what's wrong. Why don't I just let Haley tell it. Here is a message she sent to her friends asking for prayer:
Friends, as I was in the air flying to Ethiopia, my Dad was being rushed to the emergency room after nearly two months of trying to figure out what has been causing him pain in his back. Everything seemed explainable, but definitely not right. He has been to Dr. after Dr. and everything was checking out ok...until yesterday when he was unable to get out of bed with the pain significantly increased. At this point the Drs. are Oncologists and Hematologists. As I sit right where I know for sure the Lord has led me to sit, my Dad is in pain and unsure of where we are headed. Man this is hard. However, even in heartbreaking confusion I trust the Lord. Please pray for Dad, and pray for me as I commit to the joy God calls me to have in all circumstances. Jess and I are headed to the orphanage to meet the kids in about 20 mins. All I know to do is ask for your prayers.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pray with us and pass this on to get others to pray. Haley is near and dear to our hearts and on top of that, in many ways, has made the trip to Ethiopia possible. As she rejoices with Jessica there with our kids she also suffers by being on the other side of the world from her daddy and not knowing all that is happening.

Specific ways to pray:
  • For healing and comfort for Mr. Scully
  • For peace and calm for Haley
  • For assurance and patience for the Scully family as they wait for answers
  • For accuracy and clarity as the doctors look for answers
  • For the potential strain this could put on Jessica and Haley as they fight different emotions and jet lag
I know even now many of you have begun to pray. Thank you.

I do want to leave you with a quick kids update. I awoke this morning to two text messages that immediately made happy tears flow. Jessica's said, "kids English is really good. They are amazing!" And one from Haley said, "You wife is showing your kids video of you and they cant take their eyes of you saying 'papa'." As I type this I weep with joy.

Lord, please help us get these kids here quickly.

Thank You, God.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, July 1, 2011

glucose comas and driving on empty


My heart is both heavy and happy. The mix of emotion can most likely not be accurately described with words, at least not in a blog. It would take volumes to express and would be as unintelligible as it would be hefty. I will nevertheless ramble a bit here for both our sakes.

I deliver Jessica to Dallas tomorrow and she will board a plane with one of our dearest friends, Haley, for Ethiopia to visit our kids. I have ceased the adjective labels such as "soon-to-be" or "hopefully" to describe the children. They are no one else's. And desperately loved and longed for by us. The only adjective I want to use currently is a possessive one - OURS. (heavy sigh)

So, Jessica is going to visit them and I don't get to. Will someone cue the pity party music? I am really excited for her getting to's just...seriously. Someone? The MUSIC!!! It's just I really want to meet our kids too. So I'm a bit sad.

Jessica has purchased enough candy and toys to stock the Texas State Fair for three millennia. She's sitting on the floor packing balls and bubbles and books and suckers and Starburst into her suitcase. I told her in a foreign country to try to blend in. "Try not to look too much like a tourist." That's what I told her. Apparently her idea of blending in is wearing a pages from coloring books while tossing out candy to the onlookers like she's the Krewe of Janus. I love my wife. I love that she'll read that and purse her lips, shake her head and smile at me with her eyes. Anyway, the orphanage has quite a treat coming. Possibly one or two glucose-comas as well.

I just wrote a letter to our kids that Jessica will deliver. I cried through my writing until I ran out of things to say. I asked Jessica if she had any ideas of what I could say and she allowed me to read some things she has written in a journal to them. I just thought I had cried. My wife's heart is incomprehensibly wonderful. Beautiful were her words. And our kids will one day be immensely blessed. My letter will no doubt be butchered in translation, all heart-felt emotion and loving tenderness sapped from the page by poor interpretation. Aren't I Debbie Downer? Sorry all you Debbie's out there. Especially you little ones. (wink). Most of my negativity is only here to mask a deep longing for this process to come to completion with our kids safely home.

Contrary to the tone thus far I am rather happy. There is a little life growing inside of Jessica that I also am excited to meet! Seeing its little heart beat was amazing, and then Jessica began feeling it kick, and now I CAN FEEL IT TOO!! Forgive my seeming insensitivity by calling it "it". Many of you may know that we are not finding out the sex of the baby...until its born of course...then we'll know. We like living on the edge. I've been driving my truck on empty for two days. Edgy. You don't know me.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

God's blessings

So I am planning my trip to Ethiopia!! Up until 2 weeks ago I wasn't sure I was going to be able to go because I hadn't found anyone to travel with. Our dear friend Haley told us she believed God was leading her to go with me. She and I prayed about it and had complete peace. Next step was for her to send out a letter asking for support to help with the cost of the trip and lost pay at work. 1 week after sending out the letter she had half of the money. Wow!! I can see God working already. While trying to get our flights planned we couldn't get the direct flight to ET, but by the time I booked the flights the direct flight had opened up and it was $300 cheaper. No coincidence I'm sure! I just heard yesterday that the airline is going to provide our hotel stay in DC at no additional cost. Now I am getting toys and things to play with the kids at the orphanage together. This is going to be fun!! I'm not sure if our kids will know I'm coming or be completely surprised when I show up. But I can't wait to meet them!!
Haley and I will appreciate your prayers. I am praying that God will use us to love on as many of His children as possible and to remind them they are not forgotten.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, May 2, 2011

An update...prayer requests

I'm sorry I haven't been very good about updating our blog!! Sadly, there's not much to update you on. We are still waiting to be submitted to court....waiting on a few Ethiopian documents to be gathered. Please pray that the people involved in accomplishing this would be dilligent! I cannot tell you how much we desire to bring these four precious kids home to join our family...even if they never get to come to our home, I will still consider them our kids and will visit them as often as I can. Our agency director made a trip to Ethiopia a little while back and gave the kids our care package that we sent to them...she videoed them opening them and showed them looking at pictures of us...very sweet! When they were asked if they were excited about having a family...the oldest boy quickly answered "yes, very much!!" Oh, break my heart....I continue to hear from other families that S.(our oldest boy) is very special.

We are trying to come up with their American name in case they want to be called by it. I want S. to have a strong leader name...I believe he will make a big difference for the kingdom just by things people have told me about him. I told Ryan I'd like to meet them before I pick their name for sure. We like the name Canon for the middle boy.It means the standard, or rule, by which things are to be judged, measured, or weighed. Eden is the name we have picked out for our daughter.

Now on to my next prayer request. I am planning to visit our kids this summer most likely without Ryan. Don't worry he will meet them soon enough. I have invited a friend to go along with me and make a mission trip out of it so we can love and minister to other orphans...remember 98% of the world's orphans are not adoptable!!! I am still working out the details so pray with me that we would seek God's guidance in this and that we would trust that He will provide the means to go!!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Immediate throat punch

There are several phrases that well-meaning people say that are sometimes not the best possible thing to say at a given time. For instance, a funeral is not always the best place to say “Well, I’m sure they’re in a better place.” We’ve probably all said that. I know I have. And some people may not be bothered by it at all, but there exist safer things to say. Another example might be trying to comfort someone who is going through cancer with “This too shall pass” or the old favorite “Joy comes in the morning”.

But I’m guilty of all of these and I’m not writing to beat you up about what you’ve said wrong in the past. Well maybe a little. I want to give you a few not-so-great things that are often said to adoptive parents, potential adoptive parents, or those struggling with infertility. These are in no particular order and some are completely stolen from friends who’ve shared these with me.

Pre-Adoption No-no’s

For starters, if someone says they’re adopting don’t ask why. A few times people have actually said, “Why would you adopt? You can’t have kids regular?” Immediate throat punch is the result. Instead consider this as an option: “That’s awesome! Congratulations! How can I pray for you specifically?” That leaves it open for the person to share any struggles they are having with infertility or just the adoption process in general.

Here’s a big one. Please don’t assume that because someone adopts that means they will all of the sudden become pregnant. I know right now you are listing off couples in your head that you know personally that this happened to. That’s great! But it DOES NOT happen for everyone. So for you to say, “Oh, I’m sure you’ll get pregnant as soon as you adopt. It happened for Bob & Susie and Bill & Nancy and...” it just causes all kinds of problems. For one, you may be building false hope because you are not, in fact, the Giver of Life. Also, in some people’s eyes it devalues adoption. As if to say that if you’re faithful in doing that then God will truly bless you with a child. It’s just all wrong. The antithesis is also accurate. If someone is adopting and becomes pregnant avoid the oh-I-just-knew-as-soon-as-you-started-adoption rhetoric.

Also, if you hear someone is struggling with infertility Please don’t offer them your kids in jest. It’s not funny. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard things like that! People say, “Ugh! You just think you want kids. You can keep little Johnny for a weekend and I bet you’ll change your mind.” We want the child(ren) God has for us. So you can keep your rotten heathen and your comments to yourself.

When someone is adopting older children (as in our case) please don’t patronize with phrases about not having to deal with crying at night or diapers, etc. Not all people choose to adopt older children to avoid stinky diapers and sleepless nights. We will have plenty of trials of our own and grieve the time lost with our adopted children, all of the time lost.

I am hesitant to add this one and I want to tread lightly as I do. This doesn’t bring the pain like some of these others might, but it can sometimes be tiring to answer the question “Any news yet?” On the surface the question is obviously caring and in no way is it hurtful, but it is a constant reminder that there is no news. We still want people to care and be involved. Just understand that on any given day we might be asked that same question 5 or 6 times each. I would offer this as an alternative: “We are still praying for you and your kiddos!” or maybe “Let me know if there are specific ways we can pray.” It just alleviates the pressure to share all of the mundane details involved in waiting. And yes, waiting for the elusive travel date is as bad as it sounds. Grueling in fact. Know that we will be glowing when we have news and happy to share every little detail to the point that you will wish you hadn’t asked.

Post-Adoption No-no’s

I don’t have as many of these because we are still pre-adoption, but here’s a couple just for balance.

If it is obvious that someone has either adopted, kidnapped, or is babysitting the children they are with in the grocery store, then it is obvious. No need to ask, “are they really yours?” This could be confusing, especially for older children. Just smile and tell them how cute they are or call the police or both. I can’t wait for the day that someone cocks their head and asks if the four black children are ours. “Yeah, weirdest thing, right? They came out so dark.”

Some people are bothered by being asked if they are all siblings. If they are all adopted by the same parent then they are all siblings! Pop quiz: One biological child, one adopted from Africa and two adopted domestically. Are they all siblings? If you answered ‘No’ then you are on your way to a disgusted look before you know it. Don’t make parents answer the details of that you (a stranger) front of their kids.

All that said...

Please don’t apologize if you’ve said these things to us. You may know who you are, but we don’t remember so let’s leave it that way. We don’t hold grudges and have laughed away most of it knowing that we’ve put our foot in out mouth more than we’d care to admit.

Please feel free to add in the comments your own examples of awkward things people have said to you.

And above all of this please know that the thoughts contained in this email are my experiences and may not be true for everyone. I only offer what’s here as a guide in trying to say what’s in your heart. If you mean well and want to offer your friend or loved one some expression of tenderness and caring in whatever it is they are walking through there’s one phrase that ALWAYS fits: I love you.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Prayers are being answered already

When I got home from church and checked my email...I had a very nice note from USCIS(immigration) saying they have approved us to adopt from Ethiopia!! Just a few more hurdles to go!! I really do mean it when I say thank you to all of you who are praying us through this every step of the way.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Kids know about us

**Update** I wrote this post a few days ago and just wanted you all to know our dossier(all paperwork) is on its way to DC to get the great seal to be able to send it to Ethiopia!! Yahoo!! Finally...I'm so glad to have that part done and out of my hands.

So I got an email from our agency director. She wanted to let us know that while she was in Ethiopia last week she told our kids about us wanting to adopt them. She said they were very excited and asked her if they would all be going to the same family and she said "Yes...God is faithful." That's right, He is!! We are getting a photo book together to send to each of them. One of my new adoptive-mom friends told me this will be their most prized possession. She said when she picked up her two kids this was all they had to their name! We just got back from buying each of them their first outfit to send over also. It was fun and challenging since we have never seen them in person...I just approximated their size based on their height and weight. Don't worry I didn't leave S. out he will get some shorts too...just haven't found any I like yet since the stores are just putting out shorts here. Ethiopia is already seeing highs of low 70's so I thought shorts may be a better choice.

Just so you guys know what to pray for specifically. We are waiting for approval from immigration to adopt from Ethiopia instead of Nepal. Also, our paperwork is just about ready to be sent to Ethiopia to be reviewed. They will issue us a court date(maybe in April). We will go to Ethiopia for the court date and be able to spend time with the kids...Yea!! When we pass court (pray that all documents that need to be there will be) our case will be submitted to the embassy. They will investigate to assure that the kids meet the U.S. definition of an orphan. Once this is determined they will give us travel clearance to go for an embassy appointment. From what I understand the U.S. embassy will interview us and give visas to the kids if all goes well. So there are several more hurdles in this process. Please pray that all these things fall into place as they are supposed to so these kids don't have to be heartbroken.

This is where trust in God comes in. This is what is so hard for me. But I have realized more and more that God is in control and always has been even though in my pea-brain I thought I was for a long time. It is so frustrating to know your fate, so to speak, lies in someone else's hands (agencies, governments) but all along it wasn't in our hands to start with. It was/is in His. I get aggravated sometimes and think to myself ‘you know, families that are able to have children biologically get to just decide - ok now we are ready to have kids’ but God is in control of that too (we just think we are). Boy are we fooled!!

Thank you so much in advance for praying with us through this!!

May God have all the glory,