Shine Like Stars

Shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the Word of life (Phil. 2:15)
We're not trying to be rock stars but just shed some light on a sad and lonely world. Stay tuned for how God works through weak and tired, sometimes really cranky vessels.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

In only 7 days....



This girl has stolen my heart. Who am I kidding? She had my heart since I saw her referral picture. But it's been an amazing week of getting to know my Melia Serawit. It's been 7 days almost to the hour (Addis is 8 hours ahead and I have jet lag so I've been up since 3am). Here's 7 things I've learned about my baby girl.....

1. She has an amazing smile, with a little dimple on her right cheek. She made us work so hard the first few days to see the smile, now it comes so easily.
2. Amazing communicator. She gets her point across without using words. It's usually pretty clear what she wants and at this point usually gets it:) She says "in-na" when she wants some thing and often and speaks African baby talk.
3. Loyal. She was so attached to her special nannies she wanted nothing to do with us for a good 24 hours. Now that she's used to us, she's stuck like glue.
4. Shy. She has an amazing personality but when a stranger talks to her, she buries her head. Once she pretended to be asleep so a man in the airport would stop
talking to her. Pretty smart! I might try that.
In this picture she's hiding from one of her nannies.
5. She loves to giggle. Her rolly poly belly so ticklish. She loves to be tickled.
6. Super Expressive. The face she makes speaks volumes about what she's thinking. She's got a smile that could light up the room and can turn on the tears so fast and melt your heart.

7. She loves us and we love her!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Meanwhile, on the home front....


Caleb, Nathan and Addie have been hanging out with the Schroeder Family in North Carolina for over a week now. They have been busy playing with their cousins Randy, Alex and Abigail, as well as spreading their ever popular potty "butt crack" talk across the country. They have certainly been missing their Mommy and Daddy, but are enjoying the change of scenery. The had a great time looking at all the pictures of Melia. Addie thought that Melia was Micah. All the previous pictures Melia didn't have hair, so she was confused. While viewing the sleeping picture Nathan asked "She's not dead, just sleeping right??" All the Gothros are excited to be together as a family!



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Doing well!

I don't have any real updates from Micheal and Lauren. I've chatted with Lauren over gmail and text. Today Lauren said it was their "best day yet". She said that Melia loves her now! Yea!! They had a cultural dinner as well. They are ready to head home and start life as a family of 6!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Update from Michael - Day 2 with Melia

The American Embassy in Ethiopia (if I remember correctly). The grounds of the embassy are beautiful. It is surrounded by high walls. You have to go through metal detectors and can't bring in a camera or any other electronics.



Hey Everyone,

We are having a delightful day with Melia today. We have been with her for about 24 hours now, and she has come a long way in warming up to us and showing us her soul. We had our Embassy appointment this morning, which gave us about 3 hours of waiting time to just hang out with Melia. By the end of our time there, Lauren was playing peek-a-boo with Melia while I held her…and she could not stop cracking up! It was great to hear her laugh. She took a great nap on the way home and back at the hotel. When she woke up, (about 20 minutes ago), she cried again when Lauren went to get her up and wouldn’t stop until I held her. I guess I finally have a “Daddy’s Girl”!

Lauren told me today that she feels a little bad that we are taking Melia away from her homeland. Ethiopia is such beautiful country which is steeped in rich culture and history. Lauren’s take on American culture was “Money and McDonalds”.

We are going to have to switch the diapers we brought with some bigger ones from Hannah’s Hope. Melia is quite the chunky baby. I have never seen thighs so big! I’ll bet she is definitely heavier than Addie is…who knows, she might even be heavier than Nathan! Almaz said that she was malnourished when she came to Hannah’s Hope 3 months ago. She is certainly not anymore, and has shown us why with her veracious appetite.

We are working on getting some pictures sent out. The Facebook texting is not working for pictures. A couple in our group have a thumb drive that we can borrow, but they have not been able to download picture from it on the hotel computer, so we will investigate more options. Love you all.

Michael & Lauren

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Together at last!!!


We have Melia! She is so adorable and certainly strong willed! She has been having a rough go so far, but she is tired and will fall asleep quickly. She is also warming up to us. She seems to feel a little more comfortable with me (Michael) so far, which is what the family education lady from our agency said might happen since I do not share the same gender as her special moms. Lauren just fed her a bottle and she downed it in about a minute. I seriously think she weighs more than Addie! She is definitely not 12 months, but more like 7 to 9 months, so her May 14 birth date could very well be accurate.

**Lauren said that they are not able to send pictures at all!!! I have charged her to find a thumb drive somewhere in the city of Addis Ababa!! She has nothing else to do after all. ; )

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Arrival - Day One







*I (Aimee) added pictures just for your visual pleasure. Bole Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Shopping in Addis

Lauren and I arrived safely in Addis Ababa a little after 9 am this morning (Saturday). By the time we got our visas, made it through customs, retrieved all of our bags (yeah! All of our bags made it!), and arrived at the hotel, we were pretty wiped out.

We took a little nap, ate lunch, and then decided to see the city a bit. We took some cabs with two other couples, went to the Hilton to exchange some money, and then went shopping at an Ethiopian Market for a few hours. Shopping turned out to be pretty draining, as we were swarmed with kids who turned on the tears for us and were infatuated with the suckers we were passing out. Trying to convert Birr to American dollars while assessing the value of an item, all on minimal sleep proved to be quite a chore. We were happy to get our shopping in today though, so that the rest of the week we can just hang out together with Melia.

Speaking of Melia, we will go to the orphanage tomorrow, (Sunday), at 1:30 pm (5:30 am EST) to get her. We had originally thought that we were going to get her in the morning, but they actually changed the time on the itinerary with white out, so everyone in our travel group was a bit disappointed. The waiting is almost over though, and we are brimming with anticipation. We will send more updates when we can. Not sure about pictures or videos, as the computer at the hotel does not have the right hookup for our memory stick. Love you all. Please forward this on to your respective families.

Michael & Lauren

8:00 pm local time, Saturday

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pictures!!

These are the first glimpses of Melia Serawit. Can't wait till we all get to see the "real" thing!!





Am I dreaming?!?

It's 2:30am right now and Michael and I are headed to the airport in less than an hour (thanks mom and dad). It seems so surreal. I've been hoping and praying and crying and whining for this trip and it's here! I can't believe it. I am so ready to bring our sweet pea home.

Yesterday, I flew to NC with the kids, we had a great day with everyone hanging out (some of us were a little loopy from getting up so early). I flew out of Charlotte that same night. I had a hard time leaving them without the ugly cry face. I rushed out of the house so they wouldn't be left with that face on their minds:) So in my haste I left many a things behind....many important things. 3 of which were my kiddos but that was on purpose, you wouldn't have known it by how I was crying, but yes I knew it was coming. 1 was my wallet, which included my id I would need to get onto my flight, my awesome brother-in-law rescued me and brought my wallet just in time. And I left my camera, but my sisters are great and I'm borrowing theirs. I left one in NC and I'm bringing 2 to Ethiopia, just in case:) Thanks family for picking up my slack!

So, with all the craziness of leaving my brain behind and the shear exhaustion of being at the airport with 3 kids at 5:30am and flying with them then leaving them. I was a wreck. My ugly cry face turned into crazy blotchy face. I stopped in the bathroom on the way to board the plane, and let's just say I shouldn't have. I looked beat down. This is confirmed by the sympathy looks I got at every turn. I didn't care though, I was missing my children and I was letting all my emotions out!

Then I went home and slept (through the night, no interruptions!) and I felt much more emotionally stable. My kids are going to have an awesome time and have so much fun with the S fam. They get to play outside, which in Michigan we are avoiding at all costs because it's insanely cold. Anyway, I know this is best for them. Please pray for them....that they'd not be sad and miss us too much. Caleb has a hard time spending the night away from home and he's pretty analytical so he's been missing us. Pray that the S fam would be blessed for all the love they're giving to my babies.

Ok, longer post than I was intending.....
Almost time! I'm hoping to update while we are gone, but the internet is sketchy in Addis.
Thanks so much for all your prayers. I am ever amazed at how the Lord has used so many people to help bring us to where we are now. I feel so supported and loved. Thanks and keep praying!

p.s.
The kids were awesome on the flight to NC. The boys were so cute pulling their little rolling suitcases through the airport and giving the security guys high fives. They were like little celebrities. Addie was a little high maintenance on the flight but that's to be expected from a 2 year old. Our flight left at 7am and we had a lot of business men sitting around us. They were very nice and most of them slept soundly through the whole flight, which is a testament to my kids behavior:)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My babies are cute

My babies are leaving tomorrow. I'm feeling a little sad. I know it's going to be fine but I'm just going to miss them. But then I've already missed so much of Melia's little life. Anyway, leaving them for 11 days is sad. Don't get me wrong...there are some days that I think I need to get away from these little people, but not 11 days worth of being away.

I know that they will be fine and they are so excited about it so that makes it way easier to go. They were just so stinking cute tonight....

Addie was dancing like a crazy lady. My girl's got moves!
While I was playing dragons and knights with Caleb tonight, I was trying to be cool and creative and I said "hey guy come over here, look I found magic bombers" and Caleb just cracked up, he couldn't stop laughing and saying "magic bombers" over and over again. Apparently, I'm not very good at that imagination game.
Then when I was putting the boys to bed I started singing "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" and Nathan looked at me and said "Mommy, I love this song. This is the song I wanted you to sing. I love you." Then planted a big kiss on me.
See why it's hard to leave.

There's also a list of things that make me want to run away sometimes but that's for another time:)

Monday, December 7, 2009

My bags are packed....

I'm leaving on a jet plane....

But I do know when I'll be back again:) December 18th, with my baby!!! For those of you who are interested, you can meet us at the airport our flight gets in at 2pm.

The only catch is....we want our kids to be the first kids to meet Melia and they aren't coming home until Sunday (my sister and my niece are flying them home a few days later so we can catch up on our sleep and Melia can have some quiet time in her new home). So, no kids allowed at the airport:)

I feel like the rule lady these days...."you can't hold my baby" and "no kids can meet her until..." But it's such a delicate process and we feel like we need to think about what's best for our family during this adjustment time.

Ummm...I was really planning on just posting these pictures so you can see what I've been doing these past couple of days, but I started singing that song and got off track. Anyway....

The kid's stuff for NC

The Donations
that Michael amazingly fit into
these 3 bags!
And they weigh under 5o lbs.

The girls' closet

Melia.........Adeline
To do.... pack for Africa!!!





Thursday, December 3, 2009

Packing, packing, packing


Donations
Here are all the donations that we've received so far. We still have a few more donations coming in. Lots of formula, diapers, bedding sets for HH, basketballs, flax seed oil and multivitamins.
Thank so much to everyone who donated these supplies. Thank you to those who gave cash donations we are going to give it the orphanage director, and we may have to use some of it to pay the airlines if they charge us for the extra luggage.

I'd like to say that I've been packing, packing, packing but it's been going very slowly. I have the kids' stuff mostly packed and they are so pumped to head to North Carolina and spend 11 days with my sister and her family. I made a package for the kids for each day--a note and a little present for each child. I've packed most of their clothes, but I need to do laundry and figure out what to put in their carry-ons. Our flight to NC leaves at 7 am on the 9th, which means we'll head to the airport around 5. I'll get to hang out a bit in NC then my flight leaves that same night at 7pm. I'm going to miss my little guys so much!!

So, I'll have all day Thursday to finish packing for Ethiopia. Our flight leaves at 6 am for DC, we'll have to leave for the airport around 3am. I'm excited to meet up with a few other families from our agency in DC. Then our Ethiopian Air flight leaves at 9:30am and arrives in Addis Ababa Ethiopia at 8:30 am Saturday.

We'll meet our sweet girl on Sunday! I can't believe it's all really happening! This time next week hopefully all our bags will be packed and we'll be ready to jet:)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Because I'm not stressed out enough...


Michael decided to shave the boys' eyebrows. Yup, that's right, not the boys shaved their eyebrows but Michael did. He said Caleb saw his beard trimmer and said can we shave my eyebrows, and since Michael always does whatever Caleb says (lots of sarcasm here) he did it. Not only that, but he said I started it on the long setting and it didn't do anything so I did it on short. Ummm, really???







Prayer Requests

Here's an email Michael sent to his family, we'd love your prayers!!!

We will be leaving soon to pick up Melia from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and would greatly appreciate prayers for the whole trip. Here are some specific areas for prayer:

- The biggest prayer item in my mind is that Melia, by God's grace and sovereign power, would prepare Melia to meet us even now.
Please Pray:
-That the Spirit would let her know now that her parents are coming to take her home soon.
-That when we meet her for the first time, she is not fearful or anxious, but knows that we are her parents and that we love her.
- Also pray that Lauren and I have a blessed time of bonding and attachment with Melia throughout our time in Ethiopia
- Pray for travel mercies, especially on the trip home. This will be a long flight with a child in our laps. We would love for Melia to sleep much of the time as she cuddles with us!
- Please pray for our other children, Caleb, Nathan, and Addie, as they will be away from us, (and we from them!) for the longest stretch of time in their lives. I'm not sure who that will be harder for, us or them! We will certainly miss them! They will be having fun with their aunt, uncle and cousins in North Carolina.

Here is a quick rundown of our traveling schedule and agenda in Ethiopia:

Fri 12/11 Leave Detroit at 6 am (fly through Dulles to Rome to Addis Ababa)
Sat 12/12 Arrive in Addis at 8:30 am (12:30 am EST)
Sun 12/13 Meet Melia around 9 am local time (1 am EST)
Mon 12/14 Embassy Appointment at 9 am local time (Visa and Passport for Melia)
Tues & Wed 12/15 - 12/16 Bonding with Melia at hotel, playing with her at Hannah's Hope Orphanage, meeting the "Special Moms" who took care of Melia for the past few months, shopping, cultural dinner, Bonding with Melia!, Bonding with Melia!
Th 12/17 Paperwork finished in AM, depart from Addis at 10:15 pm (2:15 pm EST)
F 12/18 Arrive at Detroit Metro Airport at 2 pm EST (yes, you did the math right...that's almost 24 hours in total travel time! Oh Lord, be gracious!)

Thanks for praying!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Elfie preparing to attach


My new Baby Hawk arrived in the mail today (actually I think it's been at the backdoor for a few days, but I just found it today). I love it. I'm hoping Melia will enjoy it too because it's a big part of our attachment plan. Speaking of attachment parenting, I've been meaning to write a post about what we are planning on doing, but I don't have time to do that right now with all the carrying of my toddler and decorating for Christmas when I should be packing for my trip half a world away. Here's a great post from the Hensley family. We are planning on doing all of things they list so I just decided to steal it from their blog:) Thanks Hensleys!
I think I have some practice to do with the Baby Hawk, Addie and I look very awkward. We look nothing like the instruction book. Hummm.... I guess we'll figure it out. Addie is only 4 more pounds and 3 inches taller than Melia, so this is a fairly accurate picture of what holding Melia in it.

A little known fact about me....I'm like an elf when it comes to Christmas. I love decorating (I don't go overboard or do very much but I just love having decorations out) I love Christmas music, I love driving around and looking at lights, I love having advent devotions with my kiddos every night, I love nativity scenes....I could go on and on. I'm the only one in my family who loves it so much. Most years I go and help my parents set up their tree and my sister really dislikes the whole bit so I set up her tree too! I love it. Now I should be packing but tonight, Michael and I put the tree up and tomorrow morning there will be 3 kids digging through boxes and decorating our tree. How lovely.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Baby Love

The Hensleys, the Easts, the McBrides, and the Sinclair Family are loving on their Ethiopian babies as I type this! They are the first group to travel from AGCI since the Ethiopian courts have reopened. Oh, what joy. They are finally united with their children they have been waiting for. If you get a chance, please pray for each of these families that the transition time with their children would go smoothly and that they all bond well with their new families.

Wow...I'm still so amazed that we'll be meeting our babe in 21 days. I get butterflies in my stomach just typing that! I'm so excited.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Melia Update

One of the reasons I was itching to get our travel date (besides the obvious reason of just wanting my baby) was because our agency gives out updates of our children with the travel date. Ours came today. I have to share the words used to describe this new little Gothro....
Serawit is a content baby most of the time. She has huge personality and has very strong will. She takes everything in around her. She is not willing to go to people she is not familiar with. Most likely she will have hard time at first in going to her new family as she is very attached with her special mothers and knows her surroundings really well—she has a hard time with changes.
I am in love with the idea of her having a huge personality. I'm wondering, what exactly does that mean and I can't wait to find out. I'm also asking for prayer for her as we will be changing her world in 25 days. Please pray that she'll surprise her nannies by not being scared of us.
She takes in everything around her.....how cute is that?
Her attachment to the special mothers is good, hopefully she'll be able to attach well with us too.
She has a very strong will.... hehehehehee, this just makes me smile and want her with me!

Here are some of the families we will be traveling with the Pratts, the Derloshons, and the Stewards.
Wow, this really happening! I'm going to Ethiopia to pick up my Melia. Whoot, whoott!!!
Michael's really excited too. It was evident in the way that he booked our flights to Ethiopia even when our agency said that the dates were just tentative and to wait for finalization. He felt like making it final himself, so he did and we have flights! He's currently booking the flights for me to take the stateside kids to go to North Carolina, Thanks Uncle Lee for the frequent flyer miles. You rock!!

Melia...Here we come!!!


We have tentative travel dates. Arriving in Addis on December 12th and leaving on December 17th!

I've been waiting for this call and this info and now that I have it I'm in a daze, amazed and excited we are actually going to get our sweet girl! God is so good!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Collecting Donations and Praying to travel SOON!!

The home that Melia is in right now, Hannah's Hope, is run by our agency AGCI and it's an amazing transitional home for children of all ages who are loved on as they wait for their families to bring them home. We have the priveledge of bringing things with us when we travel that are hard to find in Ethiopia.

I was very excited to find out that they wanted new bedding for the older girls rooms. I went to one of my favorite places, Ikea, and picked up ten bedding sets that AGCI picked out. Friends have generously covered the cost of this bedding! Thanks guys.

We have more donations coming in and are very excited to be able to give these things to the children at the orphanage. We are also collecting organic flax seed oil (not capsules), Infant multivitamin drops, bottles (Avent), Amoxicillin (125 grams, in powder form). We are also planning on bringing a cash donation to give to the orphanage director.

I have 4 rubbermaid bins to fill with donations. We're hoping and praying that the airlines will be cool and let us bring them without paying extra costs.

We often get the question.. When do you get to go? Well, hopefully soon! We are waiting for an Embassy date and in order to get that Melia's paperwork needs to be all ready (her passport and birth certificate). Once those documents and the court decree are at the Embassy they will schedule a date for us. Our agency has two tentative dates for December...the 14th and the 28th. I'm hopeful that we will go sooner than both of those dates. I'm either an optimist or just really needing to hold my girl.

Great news....Families from our agency have their travel dates....they leave in 2 weeks! Yippee Shauna, Easts, Hensley's and McBrides, soon you'll be leaving on a jet plane!! A couple of those families passed court 4 days before we did! We're getting so close.

Plan and re-evalutate

I was listening to a good sermon by Mark Driscoll the other day about Proverbs and what it has to say about planning. One of the things that he said was that we seek the Lord to make our plans and then we later re-evaluate the plan and tweek if if we need to.

Throughout the summer we planned and prayed about schooling for Caleb. Since he was a little babe I had envisioned homeschooling him, my sister Jennifer has homeschooled for years and I remember when her children were in lower elementary, they had an amazing grasp of history and knew so much about everything! Jennifer used a program called Classical Conversations (CC). The more I heard about it the cooler it sounds. I won't get into that now, but if you're interested check out the link. Now my other 2 sisters and my bother (actually my sister-in-law does the schooling:)) homeschool. They started a CC group in our city this year.

Anyway, back to the planning.... There is a free Montessori school in our district that uses a lottery to choose what students get in. It seemed like a great option for us, so last spring we put our name in the lottery and we got in. We made the decision to send Caleb and we are glad that we did. It was a great opportunity for him and it was good for him to see what school is like.

But after a few months of sending him, we have 're-evaluated' and have decided to take him out of school and homeschool him.

Basically, this decision seems to be the best for him as an individual and for our family as a whole.

Caleb Reasons:
-Caleb loves learning and spends a lot of his time working on math and reading.
-Having a husband as a teacher, Michael helped by checking out the state of Michigan achievement goals for Kindergarten and Caleb and he's already at a first grade level, so I can't do too much damage:)
-Caleb had a hard time going to school, he would cry and say that he didn't want to leave us. Usually, he loves going anywhere and doesn't have separation anxiety.
-Having Kindergarten at the end of the day cuts into our "fun" trips. Since school has started we haven't been going to the museum or zoo or other educational outings as much because his class was from 12:30 - 3:30. At this age I think all of those things are important and that he learns through those experiences.

Family Reasons:
-We miss him when he's gone. Nathan's behavior really changed when Caleb started school, he missed him yet when they were around each other Nathan was often jealous and they fought more. When they are constantly around each other they find their groove and are best friends.
-When we bring Melia home, Caleb really won't want to leave us and I feel like Melia will get a better sense of family earlier if he's not missing for part of the day.

Me Reasons:
-Practically, It will be way easier for me to be at home with the kids than piling 4 cuties into the car 2 times in 3 hours.
-I love teaching him. Since Kindergarten is pretty easy and he's successful at what he's doing, he's really fun to teach. I love reading with him and I am constantly amazed at how quickly he improves.

So, all that said...
1. We have no regrets about sending him to school and left on a good note with the teachers. It was a great learning experience for us as a family.
2. What's next~ We are going to join the Dearborn CC group in January. Until then we'll work on reading and math and science experiments (pretty much stuff we always do!)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Simply Amazing



Melia is officially a Gothro
We passed court!!

I'm so amazed. We prayed we would pass-- we did! We prayed we would find out soon- we did! We also prayed like crazy that her birth mother would feel peace
about her decision-- I'm trusting that she did.

I feel so blessed to have so many people in our lives that have supported us with prayers and encouragement. The body of Christ is a really cool thing!!

The next step...waiting for our embassy date so we can make travel arrangements. I have no idea when this will be. Our caseworker was preparing me for the wo
rst, she said it might be a while like 6-8 weeks.




This the photo book we made for the birth mother. I also made another one for Melia to have when she gets older. Most of the photos are the pictures we received with the referral.
That's the blanket that we sent for Melia to snuggle with, not the same blanket because I already sent that one to HH, I bought two, so I'm cuddling with this one until she comes home.
We also sent a photo album to HH for Melia with pictures of us, hopefully she'll recognize us when we meet her for the first time. Just writing those words gives me goosebumps. We're going to meet her soon!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Like a ton of bricks

Today was a very emotionally rough day for me. Which I was so surprised about. For the past week I've been so excited about our court date and bringing our girl home soon that I didn't think much about her birth mother. Today my heart was so heavy thinking about her.

I imagine her taking the long journey to Addis (I'm really hoping that she did take the trip), all those hours to think about her decision and about how much she loves her daughter. I am so indebted to this woman that I've never, and probably will never, meet. She's giving me the most amazing gift. Well, today she's probably having a ridiculously hard day. So I've been praying my brains out today for this amazing woman.

Having our court date scheduled so early is amazing and I'm by no means wishing it was later but since we just found out last Friday that our court date would be in less than a week, the photobook I made for her birth mother probably won't arrive in Addis until after court. We emailed the letter that we wrote to her thanking her for entrusting us with her daughter (very hard letter to write) and a list of questions that the orphanage director will hopefully have the chance to ask her.

I'm forever grateful to Melia's birth mother. She's so brave!

Oh, I didn't mention this before but we probably won't know if we passed court until early next week. It'll be a long weekend of waiting but soon and very soon we'll find out:)

Thanks for praying with us!!

Feels like the beginning stage of labor

24-ish hours until our Ethiopian court date. I say -ish because our date is on Friday 10/30, Ethiopia is 7 hours ahead of us and if we potentially have our case reviewed in the am, well, that'd be in about 24 hours!

It's like those last days of pregnancy when you think 'Could this be it? Will this child finally be out of my belly so I can kiss them?' I'm thinking 'Could this be it? Is this beautiful baby that I've been loving and longing for officially be mine? Can I finally make definitive plans to bring her home?' Just like those last days of pregnancy, you don't know if it's really 'it' or if it just feels like 'it'. You know it's going to happen, just not exactly when. The adoption process is like that but magnified a million times because instead of carrying your child around with you, you have never held your baby and you just have to trust that she's being taken care of. Oh and things could fall through and..... (I'm not going there in my head)

So, our court date.... there's a possibility that we won't pass court the first time. Many things need to happen in order for us to pass....
~The birth mother has to come to Addis Ababa. Melia was relinquished in a
government orphanage in the south, which, according to what I've heard is about 8
hours away from Addis. Our agency provides transportation for her to come but I
imagine it's going to be hard for her to get there. Oh and she has to have proper ID.

~The court also needs a letter stating that Melia is adoptable and another letter stating
that we are fit to adopt her.

Please pray that these things happen and everything goes smoothly and that we pass court the first time and don't have to reschedule our court date for any reason.

By the Lord's grace, I've had a super busy week and haven't had much time to think (stress, worry) about our court date. Although, I haven't been able to fall asleep at night before 2am and now that court potentially 24 hours away, is sleep is eluding me more than usual!

Please Pray We Pass!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Updates....

Ethan is home (at Nana and Papa's house) and is doing better. He's still coughing a lot and is pretty weak so he still needs prayer.

3 Families passed court this week! Congratulations to the Hensleys, McBrides, and Sinclairs they officially have added Ethiopian beauties to their families!! Yay!

Roughly 34 hours until our court date. Please pray that we pass. We can't wait to bring our baby girl home:)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"My baby sista"


One of the first things I did after we got our referral for Melia (after finishing all the paperwork and sending it back in 2 days) I made each of the kids photo albums with all the pictures of Melia. They love them! Addie is very attached to hers, she has to sleep with it at nap and bedtime and often carries it around the house.

Last week Addie was sleeping in our bed and Caleb had a bad dream and also joined us (bonus of having a king size bed, although they all seem to be magnetized to me while Michael sleeps soundly on his half of the bed!) Anyway, Caleb brought his photo album with him, Addie having a 2am toddler moment screams, "My baby sista. My baby sista," while riping the book out of his sad hands. Melia's going to be bombarded with love when she comes home!


Friday, October 23, 2009

This is Ethan


My nephew, Michael's sister Laura's son, is really sick and needs your prayers. He has pneumonia and is on a ventilator. He has been on the vent for a few hours and is already looking better, but he still really needs your prayers.
Thanks for praying.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We Have A Court Date!!

I couldn't believe it today when Christy (our caseworker) called and said we have a court date and it's really soon.....October 30th.

I do this thing where I set my expectations really low so that I won't be disappointed. I know it sounds like a bad thing but it helps me get by so I go with it. Anyway, I came to the conclusion this week that Melia probably wouldn't be home with us by Christmas. I had no facts to back up this conclusion just trying to prepare myself for the worst. While I was talking to my dear friend, Missy, about this earlier this week I came up with a plan to leave the state for Christmas because I wouldn't be able to deal with being home for Christmas if Melia wasn't going to be either. I know, I know...you're probably thinking, she's crazy it's not even November yet and she's thinking about Christmas. And you're right I'm crazy but, it's hard having a baby on the other side of the world.

So, with that in mind finding out that our court date is next Friday was a complete shocker to me. I was crying and shaking and worried that I'd get in a car accident. I'm really happy.

I'm also really worn out from Michael's soccer season and the craziness that goes with it. Late game last night....soccer party tonight, having to run around all afternoon after BSF getting the supplies for the party.....Now I'm rambling.

Anyway, I'm shocked and excited about our court date. Please pray that we pass!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

on her way home....


Here's a picture Nathan made at preschool....


Melia is on her way home!
The courts in Ethiopia are officially open and so yes, she will be coming home soon, relatively:)

So... We are naming this sweet baby girl,

Melia "S"


Melia means "the work of the Lord" and that she is.
The Lord has chosen her for our family and provided for her and us every step of the way. It will also take the work of the Lord to bring her home to us. We are praying for a quick court date and to travel soon. But until then, we trust that He, who loves her more than we do, will care and love her, and those amazing people at Hannah's Hope will too.

The "S" is the name her birth mother gave her.
We are not allowed to post that either until we bring her home. It's a very pretty name and I'm excited to use it often. I'm one of those people who say their kids' whole names. Not only when they're in trouble.

Note:
We have hermit crabs named Hermit Crab (Nathan's choice), Cooper (Caleb's choice), and
Creeper (my choice, cause he's really big and really creepy). In Nathan's picture it looks like we have a creeper at our front door. Don't be alarmed it's just a crab!
Also funny that he's calling Michael and I by our first names and that he thinks he shares a room with me. That explains why he's always climbing into my bed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Please PRAY for these babies

Two families from AGCI who are also waiting for court dates found out today that their babies have been hospitalized for pneumonia. So please pray for the Anderson and Wright families and their babies.

Potty Training as a Distraction

Tonight as I was making dinner thinking "Michael's not coming home tonight, what am I going to do with these people." This was after numerous break-downs from Nathan at the Lego exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum (and when I say break downs I mean more like trying to break his siblings and then my eardrums on the way home).

I look down at Addie and say "You're 26 months old, you want to try the potty?" I put the little potty in the kitchen, stripped her down and said that's where you put pee-pee and poo-poo. For months now the bathroom has been her favorite room, she sits on the potty for a long time maybe twice a week, spends lots of time washing her hands and leaving the faucet running, so really she's already a bathroom pro. But she's never once produced anything on the potty.

But I'm needing some distractions from the fact that we can't get our court date until the Ethiopian courts open, we all thought that was happening last week and it hasn't happened yet. Also, I'm really ready for Michael to be done coaching this season. Every Monday Nathan has these ridiculous meltdowns then a few minutes later will say "When's Daddy coming home?" Sadly my answer is "you'll get to see daddy tomorrow night." He's not happy with that and sometimes hits me. I digress..... I needed a distraction, and I didn't want it to entail cleaning or sorting anything, so potty training Addie seemed like a good idea.

Surprisingly enough she did a great job. 4 hours no accidents and 5 times going on the potty! I'm impressed. She'll probably forget all that she learned by the time she wakes up in the morning but for tonight she helped me through the rough patch I was headed in.
Watching Elmo on youtube helped her work it out

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What's next

Addie's hugging/looking at 'baby sista's' picture the day we got our referral packet.


We received our referral call on September 28th and I had all the paperwork filled out, and sent out on the 30th. The packet included the placement agreement, post adoption agreement (sending updates and pictures to Ethiopia each year until baby girl's 18), Ethiopia placement agreement, Medical Review (we had a call with an international doctor who reviewed all the medical records we had), social worker release, media release, travel release, transition plan (I really appreciate the education that our agency gives us. We had a conference call about her transition home and this plan was a 10 page packet about how we can make it easier for our sweet girl to bond with us), and a fatty fee check.

In my head I thought that the sooner I finished it all the quicker we'd get a court date. Bu that's not how it works. More waiting now. We are waiting to get a court date. Courts in Ethiopia have been closed for about 6 weeks now. There were talks of them opening up last night. Anyway, for those of you lovely people who ask, when do you get to bring her home:
-We get a court date, hopefully in November.
-If we pass we make travel arrangements for 3-4 weeks later.
-We bring our baby home!!!
    Mental status update: I'm doing really well. After finding out who our baby is I felt a huge relief. I know that she's safe and being loved on at Hannah's Hope. I also have pictures to stare at!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Call




A week ago Monday it happened! The moment I've been waiting for.....the call.

It was 4:35, My house was crazy as usual. I had a couple of extra kids (really cute nieces) here, Michael was amazingly home ( he's gone so much during soccer season, I was sure he was going to miss the call and I've been working on conferencing cell phone calls, but he rarely an
swers when I call him and I didn't know if I'd have the patience to wait to hear about my daughter until he called back, anyway, no need to worry about that! He was home) and scrounging for food to eat before he left for his game in 20 minutes, I had literally just gotten off the phone with my sister, Megan, planning to meet her at the library to return my nieces and retrieve Caleb.

Well, the second I put the phone down it rang! I looked at the caller id and panicked. It was our agency, instead of answering I started screaming and
jumping and telling Michael "It's Christy!" To whic
h he said "So answer it." I honestly needed him to tell me that. I had completely lost control. Then when I did answer, I was a nut. I didn't scream in her ear, but I did cut off her pleasantries with...."Do you have info on our baby?!!?" When she said "Actually I do, is now a good time to talk?" I nearly passed out.

I was so nervous and excited that I couldn't operate the tv (I was trying to occupy the kids) seriously it was like my fingers were jelly. But finally after relocating the kids to the upstairs tv because I couldn't fix the issues in my state of mind, Michael and I sat together in a quiet living room and heard about our new daughter...her weight, height, age approximately, her medical info, where she was born, etc. After we aske
d all our questions Christy said she'd email the pictures over.

So we waited and waited and waited. Those were the longest 10 minutes of my life and I've been in labor 3x. We couldn't wait to see her...well we could because we did. Michael was incessantly flipping from my email inbox to his and I was jumping around the house, really I'm not usually a jumper, I don't know what was going on but I was jumping a lot.

Then the pictures came. She is so beautiful. Seriously, amazingly beautiful. We aren't allowed to post any pictures on-line of her until the adoption is final. We took a video of Michael and I seeing her for the first time. It's a really long video, wherein you will see me with the ugly-cry face and making some crazy sobbing noises and Michael says he looks like he has a nervous tick (all of the pictures were sideways so we had to turn our heads). Here it is, you were warned...


We then 'introduced' Nathan and Addie to her. They were smitten. I have vidoes I'll upload later. News
In both of our families travels quickly so Megan had already heard that 'the call' had come and she
brought Caleb home. He was so in love and very excited to introduce her to his cousins.

So Michael left (he was late for his game) and my sisters and their kids came to 'meet' baby girl, too!
Then all the sudden everyone was gone (including my kids who left with aunts) and I sat and stared
amazed at my precious girl.

Then off to my parents for more celebrating and technical help with the email download.

It was an amazing day. A week later and I'm still feeling it! I feel like a huge weight is off my shoulders.
I know who my baby is and I know she is in a safe place. I'm so in love!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Let's talk about adoption

I've been so caught up in my own anxious excitement about 'the call' that I haven't paid close attention to how my kiddos have been thinking and feeling about it. They've been really sweet and have talked about her at random times.

Nathan goes to a co-op preschool, on Wednesday I was working in the classroom and every time a new kid would come into the quiet room to play he would tell them that he is going to have new baby and that he loves her:)

Last night, my nephew Seth was over and the boys were playing in their bedroom then I hear Caleb say "Seth, let's go sit on the couch and talk about adoption." Seth obliges him and they come into the living room. Caleb proceeds to ask him questions about what Seth thinks we should name our new baby and such. It was very cute.

Tonight, when it was time for bed Caleb said 'I'm going to go brush my teeth and then we can talk about adoption then it's time to hit the sack.' I was laying down with Nathan, who had also just asked me if his new baby would be the same color as Micah but a different baby, when Caleb climbed into his bed:
"Dad let's talk about adoption...what do you think our baby will be like? Is she going to be beautiful? Is she going to have a heart that loves God? What should we name her?"

Amazingly, that was the first time I cried today! My boys are so sweet and are also so ready for this baby to come home. At the very least, to know who she is and know what she looks like. Come on Christy call already!!

I think Addie's ready too. She's been talking about her baby sista lately and she's always loved carrying her babies around. Most importantly, she's no longer being a brute to baby Micah and just loves to kiss him and hold him.

By the way, we have a hard time talking about baby names when Nathan is in the room because he wants to name her "Everything" and his voice is the loudest in the house and he's the most passionate so, it's difficult to throw other ideas out there when he's around!

Being #1 is great but I've been struggling with disappoint on a daily basis when we don't get the call. My sister, Jennifer, emailed me a verse that I've been clinging to. She was encouraged by it when she was overdue with her lovely daughter, Alex.

Isaiah 30:18
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
He rises to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait on Him.

I've too been so encouraged by this verse. The Lord is completely in charge and He's an amazing God who loves me and has compassion on me so......I can wait patiently and know that it's all good!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NUMBER 1

Christina and Damion received 'the call' yesterday and they are right above us on the list, so that means that we are.......NUMBER 1.

I'm so excited and so nervous. Every time the phone rings I think it's 'the call.' I was really hoping it was going to be today....but it doesn't look like it since it's already 5:00.

And the waiting continues....I'll keep you posted:)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Adoption Facts

This is an awesome video!

I cried watching it. The stats on how many orphans there are out there are incredible. The call for Christians to do something about it is awesome. I can say as far as the people around me go....My circle is doing something about it by blessing our family. Thanks to all of you who have prayed and supported us financially. You truly amaze me! Thanks.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ggggucky feelings and Trusting Him

So, I've been a little emotional the last couple of days.....It showed itself first in being highly aggrevated in situations I normally would have blown off, then escalated to crying in the produce section of Costco. I just ignored the irratitableness (and by ignore I mean blamed other people) but when I'm crying I public I have no choice but to look at myself.

Let me tell you, I've been doing way better with the adoption process than I thought. I was prepared to be a mess and to cry all the time. But I haven't. I really have been emotionally stable, and anyone in my family can tell you that's not normal! It's now starting to get to me. This process is hard. Maybe I've written that before...maybe I only blog about it being hard, if that's the case then this is my way of venting and most of the time I'm okay and I do think adoption is amazing!

I think getting our updated number set me off. I don't want to be #5 or #1 or even have my referral. I just want to be with my daughter! I know I should be happy with #5, but in all honesty I'm not. There's a baby who needs her mama and I want her now!

Today I was listening to a Rich Mullins song, it goes a little something like this:
~There's bound to be some troubles in your life, Reach out to Jesus and hold on tight~
Then lots of tears, some uncontrollable shaking of the shoulders....I realized yet another way that the adoption process is so hard for me. For my bio children I never missed one really hard thing in their little lives. Now I have a baby who is going through the probably the hardest thing in her little life and I can't be a part of it. She's losing her family. Yes, she's gaining another one but she's going through such a tough time and I'm not with her. I don't even know her yet. This makes me feel...gggucky (it's the term for the sad gut feeling I have).
Also, on this same song note: I realized that my new daughter really isn't my own. She is the Lord's and I need to trust Him to take care of her. I learned this with my bio children but I had way more time to learn it. With Caleb it really sank in when he was hospitalized with rotovirus at 16 months, with Nathan it was his first week of life being diagnosed with glactosemia, and I think the learning just seeped over from the other two for Addie:) Anyway, I have to give my baby who I don't really have yet over to the Lord and He will care for her because He loves her more than I do. I'm sure none of that makes sense to anyone but me. But it feels good to get it out so there...it's out.

Note: I started writing this last week. I'm feeling way better now:) And we're unofficially #3!

Numero 5

We got our September update call from our caseworker on Thursday. I had been going crazy waiting for it all week so it was good to finally hear from her. Last month we were #9 on the girls' list and for some reason, I wanted to be really low on the list so when she told me we were #6, I wasn't as excited as I should have been.

Then a couple of hours later she emailed me an update saying that a referral went out earlier that day and we are now #5! It was exciting for me to hear that things are moving. So, yay, #5!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hey mom, addie loves u!


When I walked into the house tonight (after going to a late movie with the girls), this message was left for me right in the doorway. Hey Mom addie loves u.
I was struck, not by what he wrote but, that my baby boy is writting me notes. Caleb is starting Kindergarten next week and I'm so excited for him because I think he'll love it, but I'm also so sad that he's getting to be so old.
I have a feeling this note tells me a lot about their bedtime routine without me. It sounds like Addie never recovered from my departure. Her attachment to me makes me a little concerned about leaving her when we go to Ethiopia. Hopefully she'll do better then!
Everyone's asleep now so it's all good and I have a cute note from my boy:)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Unofficial Update



So our official number is still #9, yup it was 9 in the beginning of July too. Unofficially we are #7. I know this because AGCI (our adoption agency) has a list serve that adoptive families can communicate on. There has been 2 referrals since our caseworker gave us our last update. There are a few families on the list above us who aren’t on the list serve so potentially we could be #5 or #6. We’ll get an update from our caseworker next week, so we’ll have an official number.

I am an optimist and everyday I think that the call is coming. So maybe tomorrow…..I guess not since tomorrow is Saturday. Maybe Monday.

What a wonderful peanut butter jar



My lovely family has been so supportive with our adoption. My brother’s family just had a bottle drive for us. They passed out 400 flyers and collected and returned over 4,000 bottles!!! We are amazed by all the work they put into this effort.

It’s not like they have a ton of free time. They are a very busy family of 9 and have a lot on their plate. Seriously, I’m so blessed by these guys. I’m also so impressed by the idea, they’re super creative.

I also received zip-lock baggie of cash this week from my sister’s kids who had a lemonade stand for us and raised $95! Those kids worked hard for usJ They are all so excited about our adoption, it’s awesome.

My other nieces and nephews gave us their allowance that they had worked and saved. Their generosity is so humbling and encouraging.

I feel so blessed to be the youngest of 5 siblings who are raising their children to be sacrificial givers. I often watch their parenting skills and take notes on what I should do! How great is that. I have the best nieces and nephews everJ I love that they are so invested in their new cousin. I can’t wait to bring her home to them!