Saturday, December 18, 2010

The No News and the Great News

We are so blessed to have so many people excited about our adoption and wondering where we are in the process. The most popular question is obviously, “How much longer until you are able to bring your little boy home.” Unfortunately, this is the “no news” part.

We were scheduled for our third court date on December 15. After pacing around the house for the better half of the day with a phone in each hand, we received a call from our adoption agency letting us know that because the courts were over-booked, they did not even get to our case and we had been rescheduled for the following day, December 16.  Since the other families in our travel group, as well as many families who have traveled after us, have already passed court and are starting to bring their children home, we were feeling quite confident that we would be receiving our happy phone call this week. However, on court date number four, we learned that MOWA (Ministry of Women’s Affairs) still had not submitted their letter of approval, the final piece of paper we have been waiting on since the beginning of November. Why? I have no idea. It’s not that there is a specific problem. It seems they just haven’t gotten around to it.

While this news does not make me want to dance on the kitchen table, I don’t necessarily consider it “bad news”. I believe if you pray about something and trust in God’s timing, then you can’t really sit around the house pouting when things don’t happen exactly as you would like. It is especially inappropriate behavior when you received your referral phone call in only 18 days, which was insanely fast, while others wait for months. So, we are looking forward to court date number five on Thursday, December 23, and hope that we have one more thing to celebrate this Christmas.

Here’s the great news part!! For those who haven’t been following along over the past few weeks, Samantha decided that she wanted to do a GIVE-AWAY at her blog, Little Goody 2-Shoes, to help raise the funds to buy new shoes for all 42 new kids at Kind Hearts in Ethiopia. I felt that 42 pairs of shoes was a pretty darn ambitious goal. Then our friend, Karen Wistrom, with Children’s HopeChest informed us that there are also 18 new children at Trees of Glory who would be blessed to receive new shoes. In order to buy 60 pairs of shoes, Samantha would need to raise $1080 or sell 216 necklaces. I thought we might be acting a little nuts, but she wanted to go for it. The response was incredible!! I really want to tell you how it turned out, but you’ll just have to go read about it here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ethiopian Orphans


Ethiopian Orphans from Simon Scionka on Vimeo.

I love this video.  I hate the reality of it.  I've watched it too many times to count.  I definitely think it's worth sharing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Samantha's Christmas GIVE AWAY!!

In celebration of the Christmas season, Samantha has a new blog post, a bold new goal, a bunch of super cute new designs, and is having a fun GIVE AWAY.  You can read all about it at Little Goody 2-Shoes.  Be sure to leave her a comment so you can be entered to win and help her spread the word!!

http://littlegoody2-shoes.blogspot.com/

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Beautiful People

Many of the things we saw in Ethiopia undoubtedly saddened my heart.  That being said, it is true that Ethiopia is also a country of remarkable beauty. While I know it sounds cliché, I can’t help but say that the most beautiful thing about Ethiopia was - hands down - the people.

If it was up to me, we would have come home with at least ten children and five grown men.  Our guides and drivers were absolutely the best.  Dave and I speculate that job openings at America World must be worded “Only the very best people in the country need apply.” The staff, both at America World and the Yebsabi Guest House, were especially wonderful with Samantha and Toby. They played endless hours of soccer together, engaged them in thoughtful conversations, and would even participate in their nonsensical “made-up” games. I’m still not sure what “Secret Agent Monkey” means, but they sure had fun with it. I liken the experience to going away for summer camp as a child and finishing the week with a whole group of new “best friends.” It really was hard to say goodbye. Toby had no desire to leave Ethiopia and sobbed as we made our way through the airport. Telling an 8-year-old boy that we can keep in touch with his new buddies over Facebook is not consoling.

To the families waiting for their first travel date, you are in the good hands of great men.

Michael Gowin Photography
Our charming guide, Job.  Such a cool guy - fantastic laugh. 
The original "Secret Agent Monkey."

Michael Gowin Photography
Our sweet and sincere guide, Yonas. 
Don't forget that you are staying with us when you visit the States, Yonas!

Tilahun (everybody calls him T), our diligent coordinator.  He managed our ever-changing schedules - always with a smile - and never missed a beat!

Michael Gowin Photography
Our excellent driver David and his watchful eyes. 
Anytime the situation started to get a little sticky, David was right there...making sure we didn't do anything stupid :)

Samantha, Yonas, and Toby in the courtyard at the guest house.

Even the guards at the guest house love on the kids and like to kick the soccer ball around.

I am so grateful for these men. 
It was a huge blessing to spend our time in Ethiopia with them.

Thanks to our friend and adoptive father Michael Gowin
(Michael Gowin Photography) for sharing your  pictures with us.  I've never longed for wealth or fame, but could definitely appreciate traveling with a professional photographer at my side.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Metcha Day

We arrived in Addis Ababa on a Saturday night.  While we were originally told that we would meet our son on Monday, we were surprised to learn that plans had changed and we were now scheduled to visit the Transition Home on Sunday afternoon.  We woke early and loaded our backpacks with with the necessities: the camera, the video camera, bottled water, snacks, and toys.  We met one of our awesome guides in the lobby of the Yebsabi Guest House and headed off for worship at the International Evangelical Church (more on that experience another day).  After lunch at Lime Tree restaurant, we loaded back into the van with the Milligan family from Alaska and were on our way.

Once we arrived, the guard opened the gate to the property and we pulled into the Transition Home courtyard.  We were led to a large outdoor porch where we handed off the camera and video camera.  It was time.  Being led by the hand, a beautiful little boy with a magnificent smile appeared in the doorway, took a few reluctant steps, and walked right into Dave's open arms.  After a solid embrace, Toby and Samantha each bowed down  to wrap their arms around their long-awaited brother.  Feeling confident that things were going smoothly, I reached out to lift him up and was relieved and delighted when he lifted his arms in willingness.  It was a perfect new beginning.

Families are only allowed to visit the Transition Home for a few hours each day.  There are approximately 80 children under the care of the staff and some semblance of routine is attempted.  The first half of our visit was spent cozied up on the couch playing with stickers.  The second half was spent with "C" hoisted up on Dave's shoulders and chasing the soccer ball around the courtyard.  When it was time for our departure, we received hugs and kisses before our sweet boy was escorted down the road to the quarters the older children call home.

After all of this loveliness, we were almost giddy to be returning for day two on Monday morning.  You can imagine our surprise when this time our son made his entrance through the doorway with a troubled expression on his face that said, "What in the world are you strange people doing back here?"  I have no idea what occurred between our affectionate good-byes on day one and this unexpected greeting on day two, but it was clear that we had misjudged the ease of our initial bonding.  Most of day two was spent following our child around the courtyard in exhausting efforts to recreate some of the good times we experienced on day one.  While he would reluctantly give in to us for a few moments during our time together, we left that day feeling defeated and emotionally spent.  As we loaded back into the van with the other families in our travel group, I found myself wishing I could trade my malaria meds for a pitcher of margaritas.

During the following visits over the next five days, we were more emotionally prepared and almost developed a routine of sorts.  Each day would begin with an attempt to reject our attention.  After persistent efforts on our behalf to prove that we are a fun and loving family, he would eventually allow himself to enjoy some of our limited time together and would even share his delicious smile.  We would play hide 'n' seek, color with markers, kick the soccer ball, look at books, race toy cars, and chase balloons.

We may never know what thoughts were running through his young mind that week.  His primary language is Sidamigna, a language that is not common in the capital city of Addis.  So even the staff, who primarily speak Amharic, had difficulty communicating with him.  I can only imagine, however, that being in a similar circumstance at age four, my first two children would have been terrified.  I am also certain that while far from ideal by our American standards, the Transition Home is the nicest place he has ever known.  Therefore, in addition to adopting a four-year-old child, we are committed to adopting a spirit of unlimited patience and understanding.

The hardest part of saying good-bye at the end of the week was not being able to whisper in his sweet little ear..."Listen, we know this is confusing and that you are scared, and we understand that.  Soon you will see that we have great things planned for you.  We're going to love you for the rest of our lives.  We're going to love you until you can't help but love us back."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Toby








Happy 9th Birthday Toby!! 
Thanks for being such an awesome kid!!
Your mama's crazy about you!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Court

Our court date took place on Thursday, day seven of our trip to Ethiopia.  We, along with three other families adopting through America World, traveled to the court house together.  The building was quite crowded and we stood tightly together at one end of a long hall.  Eventually, we were led into small waiting area that was lined with chairs.  Most of the chairs were taken, filled with Ethiopian families and guardians who were also required to be present for the same court appointments.  However, while we were there to promise that we had met our new children and would embrace them as our sons and daughters, they were there to permanently relinquish their rights.  Our group stood together in our own inner circle, waiting patiently for our child's name to be called.  For me, it was a rather uneasy moment filled with anticipation, anxiety, and awkward glances in all directions.

While our son has no known biological, living family members, he was cared for at one time by a man who was appointed as his legal guardian.  It was this man who had taken him to Shalom Orphanage in the Southern part of Ethiopia, with the hope that he would one day be adopted into a family.  The night before our court appointment, we received a DVD from our agency containing an  interview with the guardian.  Interviews are conducted whenever possible during the agency investigation, a procedure to ensure that the child being adopted is truly an orphan.  Dave was quickly able to recognize him in the waiting room.  I tried to casually sneak a peek in his direction, but found him staring directly back at me.  No doubt he was trying to assess which of the American families floating in the middle of the room was there for a common reason.  He gave a quick upward nod of acknowledgement and lift of the eyebrows.  It was an infinitesimal moment but one that I replay in my mind often.

Once we were called, we entered a small office-like room.  The judge sat behind a desk dressed in blue jeans and asked us approximately five questions in soft, Ethiopian-accented English.  Dave responded with simple yes and no answers, reluctant to respond in greater detail in case he had misunderstood the questions posed.  The entire appointment lasted little more than two minutes.  After returning to the waiting area, Duni, the Ethiopian director for AWAA, explained that the judge would be waiting for one more piece of documentation before approving our adoption.  This is common in Ethiopian adoptions and came as no surprise. 

Recently, all of the orphanages in the Southern part of Ethiopia were under investigation.  This was not necessarily due to specific concerns, but was in most cases a matter of process.  Shalom Orphanage, where our son was placed, is in this area.  In addition, Shalom is due to have their license renewed and the final letter of approval for our adoption will not be submitted until they have a current license.  It is our understanding that Shalom has passed their investigation and have been informed that they will receive their renewed license, but it is just a matter of time.  So we wait.

Upon returning to the guest house after our appointment, we were able to sit down at a table in the lobby with the guardian.  Job, one of our guides, acted as an interpreter as the guardian spoke both Amharic and Sidamigna, but not English.  We introduced Samantha and Toby and then dismissed them to our room while we took turns asking questions of each other.  He shared the little information he had about "C's" past and asked that we send him updates on occasion.  The visit was brief and at the end Dave shook his hand and thanked him for the care he had provided.  The guardian extended his hand to me as well, but I hugged him anyway.

Our next court date is scheduled for November 26.  We do not need to be present for any upcoming court appointments and will receive news through our agency if we "pass court" this time.  If this final piece of paperwork is not yet ready, we will receive another court date, most likely in December.  If it is ready, we will have the joy of officially calling him our own and finally be able to share pictures and a name.  Once we pass court, an Embassy appointment will be scheduled, which Dave will travel back to Ethiopia for and will bring our son home.

Side note:  Our flight from Frankfurt to Addis Ababa was aboard German owned Lufthansa Airlines.  Before exiting into the airport, the German flight attendant asked me if I planned to take any pictures while in Addis.  I answered that I was.  He then felt compelled to warn me that the "secret police" were everywhere and that I should be certain not to take any pictures near any government buildings.  While I appreciated his warning and had already been instructed that this was the case, I did not spend much time worrying about the "secret police."  While it would be nice to share some pictures from our court experience, the numerous young men with automatic weapons draped casually over their shoulders near any government building were enough to deter me from breaking this rule.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Going Home

We returned from Ethiopia last Sunday.  We managed to unpack a few of our things, but found ourselves crawling into bed early in the evening before the sun had set. Completely off-schedule and wide awake at 2:00 a.m., I had just finished making the morning coffee when we received a phone call from Dave's sister, Paula, with news that their father had passed away in the middle of the night. Within hours, we were back at the airport for flight number seven, destined for Dave's home state of Arizona.

While the get-togethers do not happen often enough due to the many miles, to be in the company of Dave's family is always a blessing, regardless of circumstance.  Dave and his sisters, Paula and Shelley, have a wonderful relationship based on mutual respect and a deep admiration for each other. Also in Arizona, Dave has two top-notch brother-in-laws, three charming nieces, and one handsome nephew. Poppa had good reason for the pride he possessed for his family.

Wednesday evening Shelley and Lee held an open house for family and friends in the Tempe area. Many of Poppa's childhood friends, his union electrician brothers, and family attended. All agreed it was a wonderful combination of remembrance, laughter, and tears.

Thursday morning, the three siblings and their families caravaned 138 miles to the small mountaintop town of Young, Arizona, where Poppa spent the last years of his life. A "Celebration of Life" was held at the family home of cousins Stan and Karen Marshall on their mountaintop acreage.

Family and friends gathered in blue jeans and boots around an outdoor fireplace in the cool mountain air. Samantha, Toby, and cousin Catherine began the ceremony by carrying up a wooden cross that a friend of Poppa's crafted for the occasion. Cousins Kelsey and Katelyn shared readings from the Old and New Testaments. Cousin Myron, a pastor from California, delivered a heartfelt message. Nieces led the gathering in "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Amazing Grace. "

Dave shared about his father as a teacher, not of things learned in books, but of things learned through his life experiences. Paula spoke about her father as a motivator, a provider, and his relationship with Christ. Shelley, the newly published author (proud sister-in-law had to throw that in there), recited a poem she wrote the night her father passed entitled "The Mountain".

The ceremony was uniquely wonderful and Poppa would have loved every thoughtful detail.  He would have loved the fact that his family traveled together up the long and winding dirt mountain roads.  He would have been thrilled when his children stopped to enjoy a few moments reminiscing at their grandparents cabin in Strawberry, Arizona.  He would have beamed at the sounds of the crackling fire, children playing in the background, and the horse whinnying at the most perfect moments.   It was a perfect, most appropriate way to celebrate the life of a man who deeply loved his family, his friends, and God's glorious outdoors.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Sweetest Thing

Toby brought home the sweetest thing from school today.  As soon as he hopped off the bus, before he could even make it in the house, he gently lifted the most adorable bright orange jack-o-latern card from his backpack.  He held it proudly and said, "It's for my brother from my friends at school.  I'm going to take it to Ethiopia for him."  Thank you to Mrs. Hoppe and her precious third grade students.  Adorable.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Court Date!!


We didn't need to prove our patience for long. Shortly after my last post, we received our court date for November 4th!! On October 29th, in only 9 days, we are heading to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to meet our adorable little boy for the first time.

So here's the plan - or at least part of a plan:

We depart St. Louis on October 29 around noon and travel to Washington DC. From DC, we fly across the Atlantic to Frankfurt, Germany, arriving on the morning of October 30. From Germany we fly south, crossing over the Mediterranean Sea, and arrive in Addis Ababa at 6:35 pm. The total trip time, including 5 hours and 51 minutes for layovers, will have us at our destination in 22 hours and 41 minutes (hopefully). The kids are going to be sooo excited...for the first 45 minutes.

When we arrive at Bole International Airport in Addis, we will gather our luggage (hopefully) and pick up our visas. A staff member with America World Adoption Association will meet us at the airport, whom we will identify by the AWAA sign they will be holding. (I've always wanted to have someone holding a sign for me at the airport.) We will be taken to the Yebsabi Guest House, where we will stay during our trip along with four other families from the US who are also adopting through our agency.

We are still waiting on our itinerary for the seven days we will actually be in-country. Apparently, it is a little bit tricky to finalize plans for four families visiting a foreign country, all arriving and departing on different dates. However, we know that our court date is scheduled for Thursday, November 4, and we depart for home on Saturday, November 6.

We will also be able to meet "C" on Monday and will be able to spend time with him at the Transition Home throughout the week. I can't imagine what that first interaction will be like and try to stop myself from thinking about it too much. Before we leave we will have to say a temporary good-bye until Dave is allowed to return 5-8 weeks later for our embassy appointment. It will be during this second trip that Dave will bring "C" home to his anxiously awaiting new family.

AWAA will be coordinating other activities for us during our stay, including some sight-seeing and visits to nearby orphanages. I'll be sure to write a new post once we have the details. In the meanwhile, I'll be making lots of lists, packing a few suitcases, getting my ducks in a row, and breathing into a brown paper bag.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Not Yet

Earlier this week we received an e-mail from our adoption agency stating that court dates had been assigned for the first group of families that will be traveling to Ethiopia since court closed more than six weeks ago.  We were told each family on the list would be contacted with their travel details and that court dates were set for October 29. 

My heart started racing a little and I immediately grabbed the phone.  We were fairly certain we would be traveling in October, which meant one of those court dates was most likely for our family.

 Apparently, nobody else shared our plan and the phone did not ring.  Our timing is not God's timing, and God's perfect timing said, "Sorry, not yet." 

I have a complete sense of peace, however, about how everything will come together.  I feel no anxiety or trepidation about the upcoming months.  I know there will be many unforseen challenges and unexpected surprises in our future, but I have an amazing feeling of calm that everything will work out just as it is suppose to.

While we continue to wait, we do receive monthly updates from our adoption agency, AWAA.  These include a few pictures, general physical information (height, weight, etc.) and we are allowed to ask five questions each month.  We have received two updates so far, and while I cannot share the pictures until after we pass court, I can share some of the responses we received to our monthly update questions.  We also cannot share his name, so I have substituted "C" in it's place.

What is known about the region "C" came from?
"C" came from the SNNP region of the country which is located in the southern part of the country. It's called Sidama Zone and is a few kilometers from a city called Awassa. It's known for its diverse historical and cultural heritages and even their own calendar. But due to the high population density in the particular place, the people cannot share the resources in a fair and suitable way which makes the majority to be poor.

What language does "C" speak?
His mother tongue is Sidamigna but he can speak Amharic too.
 
What are some of his "favorites" (foods, color, toys)?
Animal toys, Injera and Red
 
What does he want us to know about him?
"C" wants his family to send him photos and to come and get him as soon as they can.
 
What does he like to play?
He plays different games but soccer is his favorite one.
 
How does he feel about having a new family?
He is very happy and eager to start living together.
 
What does he remember of his first family? Are they fond memories? Is there anything he wants to tell us?
He does not remember much from his first family; he really wants his family to come soon.

After seeing our photo album, what are his thoughts? Does he have any concerns?
He likes the pictures but no concerns he raised.

Is there anything he specifically does not like?
"C" does not like to have milk.

The next group of families to receive court dates should expect to travel in early to mid-November.  There are only two families that received their referral before us that continue to wait for their phone call.  We are hopeful that we will be included in this next travel group.  In the meantime, we will be plenty busy - loving fall, picking pumpkins, playing football, and putting together Halloween costumes after all.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, when our sweet baby Samantha was almost one year old, I had a moment I will always remember. It was the moment that David and I looked at each other, without words, and wondered simultaneously…why didn’t Samantha hear that? It was a very long moment. I can still feel that moment.

Ten years ago we scheduled an appointment to have her hearing checked - just to put our minds at ease. They had performed the normal hearing test at the hospital shortly after Samantha was born. I just wanted them to tell me one more time that everything was fine. I wanted them to tell me that we were unnecessarily concerned. I wanted them to look at me like I was wasting their time. I wanted them to think, “She’s a new mother.”

Ten years ago I was sat down in a little office and was told that my baby girl was profoundly deaf. I was told that she would never hear and might never learn to speak. When I asked what we could do – there had to be something - they looked at me with their sad, serious faces and shook their heads.  I remember it was hard to breathe.

Ten years ago we realized that Samantha hadn’t heard anything - ever. Her world was completely silent. She hadn’t heard Raffi sing about the zoo. She hadn’t heard Goodnight Moon even though it had been read to her more than 100 times. She didn’t know the sounds of birds, or doorbells, or laughter.

Ten years ago we started praying (begging really) for God to guide us – to please help us. We prayed morning, noon, and night – and middle of the night.

Ten years ago we bought our first sign language dictionary, started taking sign language classes, and began working with a teacher for the deaf. David would work all day, go to graduate school at night, and do sign language lessons at night. We learned to sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider and all of the other childhood classics in sign language. We started reading books on the floor facing each other, with the book on the floor as we told the story with our hands. Every little thing we did was a lesson – for all of us.

Ten years ago we began our travels to the University of Iowa to meet with Dr. Bruce Gantz and his staff, where Samantha received her first cochlear implant. It was 10 years ago TODAY that Samantha heard sound for the very first time. It was one of the most stressful and intense days of my life. Would it work? Had we made the right choice? Was it the choice that she would want us to make? When she was older, would she understand how difficult it was to make this kind of a decision?

Ten years seems like forever ago. If I could have only seen a little glimpse of what this precious child would be like today – a cheerful, resilient, tender-hearted, inspiring young lady – I wouldn’t have wasted a minute on worry. I wouldn’t have shed a tear. My heart would have been full with joy.

Ten years ago, who would have known that right now she’d be standing on the sidewalk, chatting with the neighborhood kids, talking about how she loves Justin Bieber’s new song! Thank you Jesus!

video

Thanks to all of the great people that have been a part of
 our past 10 years:
Our wonderful families & our awesome friends
The remarkable team at the Northern Trails AEA
Dr. Bruce Gantz and his staff at the University of Iowa
The Moog Center for Deaf Education
AND THANK YOU GOD FOR ANSWERED PRAYERS!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Special Delivery


Thanks to the Joyner family of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, we will be sending another little care package to our sweet little boy while he waits for his family to arrive. This time we've included a little coloring book and markers, some Tic-Tacs, a new toothbrush, a spiky blue ball that glows when it is bounced, some punch balls to share with friends, and a ridiculous wind-up gorilla that does back-flips. In the monthly update we received at the end of August, we learned that our boy loves to play soccer - no surprise - and we thought he might really enjoy a new t-shirt with a smokin' soccer ball on the front.

Thanks Kyle and Jeanine!! We will be praying for your family and look forward to following your story.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rain Delay


As often is the case in the adoption process, we are in another stage of waiting. Only this time we are waiting on the rainy season, a season in Addis Ababa (the capital city of Ethiopia) during which the roads become so muddy and impassable that the government closes it's offices for six weeks. Can you imagine? Our next step is to travel to Ethiopia for our court appointment. Since the closures went into effect August 6 and they will not re-open until September 27, we will simply wait until the sun starts shining again and we receive notice of our court date.

Yesterday, we had a very sunny moment in our wait. We received an e-mail and pictures from the Rogers family of Wyoming who delivered our care package. I am so very grateful to this family. Andrea Rogers was thoughtful enough to describe some of the details from the time they spent with our little boy. She described him as quiet and shy, but with a sweet smile and very excited to be getting a package. She explained how he looked at the pictures we sent in a little album over and over and really studied each one. She commented on which pictures he enjoyed the most and how the picture of our dog, Gracie, made him laugh. She explained how he lined up the little rubber frogs on the couch and counted them, and shared his gummy bears with a friend. They helped him put his St. Louis Cardinal's t-shirt on and said that he looked proud. In addition, they took pictures of him enjoying his little gifts, which I sadly cannot share until after we pass court.

When all you have is a referral photo and a brief medical history, these small details are precious. I look forward to being able to pass this favor on to other waiting families when we are finally ready to travel.

It was 10:30 p.m. when we received the e-mail from Andrea and we were already in bed. When I heard the alert on my phone that I was receiving an incoming message, I just had to check it (because I am an addict). I read the message to Dave and we both smiled and let out a happy sigh. Then I asked, "Do you want me to read it again?" to which he responded, "Yeah, I do." I lay in bed that night thinking how funny it felt to be falling asleep with such a big smile on my face.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Care Package


One way adoptive families start to bond with their children is by sending care packages - little gifts that say, "We're thinking about you, we care about you, and we want to make you smile."

We sent our first package in the mail today. It included a St. Louis Cardinals t-shirt, Hot Wheels, a Yo-Yo Ball, a family photo album, gummy bears, new crayons, and is sprinkled with little rubber frogs. Our house is full of frogs and toads - rubber toy frogs and swimming pet frogs inside; bright green tree frogs and lumpy toads of all sizes outside. Hopefully our little guy will find them as entertaining as his big brother and sister.

Typically, you send your care package to another adoptive family that is getting ready to travel to meet or bring home their child(ren) and they hand-deliver it for you. The package needs to be small enough to fit in a plastic storage bag, since traveling families need to find room in their already stuffed luggage. We are thankful that the Rogers family from Wyoming have agreed to deliver our package for us when they travel later this month. We hope we packed a smile.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Send a Message in a Bottle Cap

Samantha has posted a new design on her blog and would love to have you visit!! Click on the link below to read more.

Little Goody 2-Shoes: Send a Message in a Bottle Cap: "Bottle cap necklaces are very popular right now and would make a great gift. Anyone would be happy to receive this sweet surprise in the ma..."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Little Goody 2-Shoes: Bunches of Bottle Caps

Here's the update on the first 24 hours at Samantha's blog. Thanks to everyone for the kind words and support. It's been so much fun! Click on the link below to read more.

Little Goody 2-Shoes: Bunches of Bottle Caps: "Wow!! Today has been busy, crazy, and fun! During my first day selling my necklaces through my blog, I have sold 40 necklaces!! That's $200..."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Little Goody 2-Shoes

I'm really excited to share one of my new favorite blogs. It's named "Little Goody 2-Shoes" and belongs to my 11 year old daughter, Samantha. I don't want to say too much about it, but she would be just thrilled if you would take a minute to stop by. There's a link to the far left under "Blogs We Follow" or you can visit at littlegoody2-shoes.blogspot.com (don't forget the dash). She has a "Grab My Button" gadget and would love for you to spread the word. She's just getting going so be sure to stop in occasionally.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We're in Love

We received our referral today!!
We were matched with an adorable
4 1/2 year old little boy. He has a sweet little face, sparkly little eyes, and a million dollar smile.
This day has been unreal.
We are in love.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Local Art

We recently visited the Foundry Art Center in historic downtown St. Charles, Missouri. The work of one of our favorite local artists was being displayed.



Sea Turtle
by Samantha Davidson (age 11)

(published with permission :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

DTE

Today is the day our dossier is being sent to Ethiopia. In the bloggy, chat-group, adoption world: we are DTE (Dossier to Ethiopia). This is a major accomplishment as it takes months to get to this point. For those of you wondering, the dictionary definition of a dossier (dos-ee-ey) is: a collection or file of documents on the same subject containing detailed information about a person or topic. In my words, it’s a big bunch of papers that takes forever to collect and will make you nuts if you let it.




I took a picture to share with you. Please try to be impressed as a big chunk of our past 6 months or so has been spent pulling it together. It includes: a state certified cover sheet, an application letter to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, new and original birth and marriage certificates, physical exam reports, proof of medical and life insurance, a financial statement, employment verification letters, a copy of our home study, 3 letters of reference, police reports, the much anticipated I-171H form, a state certified power of attorney, an agency recommendation and post placement commitment, family photo pages, and copies of our passports. Each form was completed according to specific instructions and many were notarized.

Many people refer to this stage of adoption as the “paper pregnancy” because it is such a long process. However, I’ve been pregnant and although it is a ridiculous amount of work, I’ll take paperwork any day.

So now…we wait some more. Only now, rather than waiting for an appointment or a piece of paper to come in the mail, we are waiting for a child - our child. We are waiting for a phone call informing us that God has chosen one of his beautiful children to be a part of our family. I don’t know how long this waiting will last, but I do know that I will be taking my phone with me everywhere I go.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Surprising Ourselves

It still feels a little crazy when I tell people that we are adopting a little boy from Ethiopia, even though we started this process 8 months ago. I think it probably won’t seem real until we bring him home, as I am still a little surprised myself. The people we’ve shared this good news with have been wonderfully excited and supportive of us. We feel very blessed to have such great family and friends. Most people say something like, “Wow! I didn’t know you guys were thinking about adopting.” And my response is usually, “Neither did we!”

We were very content with our family of four – one girl, one boy. Samantha, our oldest, is 11 years old now. She will be going to middle school this fall. Toby, age 8, will be in 3rd grade. I felt so smart and in control with my 1:1 parent to child ratio. Throw in a family dog. We were complete.

Then…while catching up on Facebook one day last fall (yes, I do feel like a teenage girl saying this), I came across a link to a friend’s blog titled “Family from Afar”. Without much thought, I clicked on the link and was surprised to learn that friends from our hometown of Clear Lake, Iowa had adopted two little boys from Ethiopia. After reading a few entries, I was so intrigued with their story, I had to start at the beginning. I sat still and read their entire blog. This was more than a little bizarre for me, since I rarely sit still for that long and I had never read a personal blog in my life.

By the time I had read half way through – maybe less than that – I knew that one day we would be traveling across the ocean to bring home a little brother. It was suddenly and completely obvious to me. I was overwhelmed to realize that there was a little boy in another part of the world that would one day be a part of our family – a son, a brother. I had woken up that day entirely satisfied with our family of four and was now unexpectedly aware that we would someday soon be a “party of five”.

I couldn’t wait to tell Dave :)

(There’s a link to Karen and Jay Wistom’s blog at the left. Karen has a beautiful way with photography and words. Their family is doing great things. Check it out…and keep your heart open.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

You Can Call Me a Blogger

Today is my first day as a blogger, which is funny for me to say. It wasn’t long ago that I read my first blog. Before that I might have thought to call someone a “blogger” was some kind of insult. Today, I am extremely excited about the idea of blogging. I love to read the latest news from friends - those I see every week and those I haven’t seen for years. I like to read about the experiences and insights of people I have never met and probably never will. More than anything, I love the idea that my family will be able to look back at some point and remember the things shared in this blog – things that might otherwise slip away. And...I'm excited to share it with you. So welcome to my God adoring, miracle believing, adoption seeking, gymnastics loving, football cheering, sports coaching, road tripping, frog catching, very blessed, busy family blog.