Sunday, August 26, 2012

My heart could seriously burst.! :)

So, here it is at 1 o'clock in the morning (6pm back at home)... I cannot sleep any longer! So I figured I'd write a little about the first couple days...

So, the trip to DC went well! We met a very sweet elderly couple at our hotel in DC that lives just 20 minutes from us. How crazy and small is our world? The following day, at the airport as we were waiting for our plane, we met another younger couple who was travelling the same flight as us. They are also adopting, they are Bible-believing Christians, and she homeschools. It was really neat to meet another couple and we sat and chatted with them until it was time to board. On the flight to Addis, we sat next to an Ethiopian woman who looked a bit older than Michael and I. We saw she was reading a Bible and Michael leaned over and said "I see you're reading the Bible! Are you Christian?" And she was! So we talked with her off and on throughout our very long 13 hour flight about church and whatnot. There were LOTS of kids and babies on this flight. And I'd say just about every one of them in our section of the plane somehow knew that Michael was the one to go to (I'm serious, ANYWHERE we go, kids are just drawn to him). Babies, toddlers and little ones came up to him to play with him, sit in his lap, etc. It made Michael and I so giddy and excited to see OUR little ones! All those little moments were blessings for us during this trip. Little "God-sightings".

Michael and I did not sleep much on the plane. Partly from being excited, partly from not being tired, as it was a flight from 11am until just a bit after midnight US time. Michael and I stay up until that time, so it was hard to sleep and exhaustion really set in as we waited in line for an hour at the Addis Ababa airport for visas. Finally we got those, converted our US dollars to birr, got our luggage and went out and found our awesome in country director Woudneh! Excitement and adrenaline kicked in at that point!

We made our way to the guest house/transition home and came inside since it was raining. Just a few minutes later, I heard a VERY excited little boy running around the front of the guest house. Here in Ethiopia, you take your shoes off before entering a home, so he quickly took his shoes off and ran into the guest house, straight into Michael's arms. It was SO precious! (I got a video of it, and will have to post it when we get home. The internet isn't quite fast enough to upload videos here.) Mikiyas would not stop hugging and kissing Michael, rubbing his arm, and just snuggling into him, almost afraid to let go. So all while eating breakfast, he sat with Michael rubbing his cheek along Michael's arm. Michael of course was absolutely loving it! Eyob was brought in at the same time and went to me, but didn't have much reaction. He just kind of stared, a lot like the first time we met him. He warmed up as the day went on and we found out he is crawling up on his hands and knees, whereas last trip, he was barely sitting well and barely doing the army crawl on his belly! He also has 2 teeth! Eeek! Just so excited he's not walking, yet, and we get to witness that first at home! :)

We napped a bit after lunch and spent some time outside playing with all the other little ones before we came back in as it got colder to spend some more one on one with Mikiyas and Eyob. We then ate supper, gave the kids back to the nannies and decided to go ahead and head to bed at 8. 5 hours later, we both are awake and can't sleep anymore! Jet lag stinks! But oh, am I SO happy to have these two guys close again! We're going to see about having them sleep in our room tomorrow night!!

Tomorrow is our embassy appointment (at about 6am FL time)! Pray that goes smoothly! :)

He is SO happy we are back! (And also pretty happy with his new clothes and shoes! Finally his very OWN clothes!)

 Eyob. He had just woken up from a nap in my arms! Hence him not being quite awake!
 Still not too sure, but isn't he so handsome? Eek!
 Michael, Mikiyas, and his good friend Alazar!
 Eyob! You can see his new bottom tooth! 
 Hours later and STILL excited! He can't wait to see Ilana and Aydan!
Our sweet boys!! Eek! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Praising Jesus

So last night, the gates of heaven were stormed by friends and family from all over the world for our sweet boy, Mikiyas... And I am SO happy and in awe of our amazing Father who has defended this child of His who is an orphan no more... After an almost 2 year journey, this chapter is finally about to close. At 8:59am, God answered all those prayers! I got an e-mail declaring that they decided to clear Mikiyas to come home!! I immediately began to shake and dialed Michael's number and when he answered, I burst into tears. Tears of joy. Tears of overwhelming emotion that has been held up in my heart for weeks. Tears of just pure awe in our Lord... Michael, of course, was afraid that it was bad news, and as I choked out that Mikiyas was coming home, I bawled even more. Those words, "Mikiyas is coming home", even brought Michael to tears (although, I'm sure he won't admit it to anyone else!)...

I cannot praise and thank God enough for what He has done for us... THANK YOU, LORD!!! We will NEVER have to say goodbye to our boys again (at least not until college. but yeah... Not even gonna think about that!)! They will FOREVER be in our family. AMAZING!

So... we will be leaving Friday night and getting to Ethiopia Sunday morning. Sunday, August 26 will be our "Gotcha Day"!!! Then we'll attend our embassy appointment on Monday afternoon (early Monday morning your time) and then will leave Ethiopia Thursday night and get to Tampa on Friday night at 7:30. Anyone local is welcome to come to the airport join the homecoming party!!! :)

Again, thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has gotten us to this point. Your prayers and support are SO appreciated! The next post you'll see will probably be from Ethiopia!!!!!!!!!! WAHOO!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Prayer Requests...

So, unfortunately this blog post is NOT about Mikiyas clearing embassy like I said I hoped it would be in the last post... But this is a really important post either way... I swear this adoption journey changes each day!

We need some major prayer warriors... We heard from the embassy yesterday and the investigative unit did go to the police station, and the police station is supposedly going to go through their files and come up with a full report to give to the embassy on Wednesday (tomorrow). It could go one of two ways. That the report is sufficient enough and Embassy clears him, OR Embassy doesn't like what it says and they will send his case to USCIS Nairobi, which can add weeks or months to his case...

That said, Michael and I are planning to travel this weekend either way. If Mikiyas does clear, I'll be shouting at the top of my lungs in excitement and we'll be bringing them both home next week. If Mikiyas does not clear, we will still travel to bring Eyob home to start getting him the medical care he needs, because we cannot hold him behind for weeks/months. Then Michael will go back by himself whenever Mikiyas does clear...

Now, for specific prayer requests:

1. Pray that the police DO turn in the report they said they would on Wednesday

2. Pray that the police report is what the Embassy needs to clear Mikiyas on Wednesday

3. Pray that if Mikiyas' case does NOT clear, that God will help him understand why we are coming and bringing only Eyob home with us and that we WILL come back for him, too! This part breaks my heart in two and I pray that we don't even have to do this... :( He is old enough to know what is going on, but not old enough to fully understand why we would be leaving him again and it hurts too much to even think about right now...

4. Pray for Michael and I if Mikiyas' case does NOT clear. Saying goodbye once was hard enough and to even think about saying it again is just something I'm dreading...

5. Pray that if Mikiyas' case does NOT clear, that God will help provide the funds for the second trip for Michael and Mikiyas, as two separate trips were really not in our budget.

6. Pray for our trip... Right now, I think we plan on leaving sometime this weekend and getting back sometime mid-late next week. Will let you know once we book tickets on Wednesday.

7. Pray for sleep tonight for Michael and I. I'm already a big ball of nerves today and I know Michael and I will be so nervous tonight that it will be hard to get any sleep...

Thank you, everyone for the prayers up to this point. I have no doubt that God can answer these prayers and I'm trying so hard to trust Him, even if the outcome is not what we want... 

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Waiting is definitely something I struggle with... It's been 8 very long weeks since we said goodbye to these two beautiful little boys...

8 weeks without hearing "Mom!" or "Dad!" from Mikiyas. 8 weeks without feeling Eyob's sweet, slobbery kisses on my cheek. 8 weeks without feeling his warm breath against my neck as he sleeps peacefully in my arms. 8 weeks without Mikiyas' amazing little hugs that could light up anyone's day...

8 very. long. weeks...

People ask me how I'm doing and as I put a smile on my face and say "Okay", deep down, I'm really not. Deep down, my heart aches and feels so divided. Many days end with me in tears. Bless Michael's heart for putting up with such a sappy wife. You'd think I just had a baby and had baby blues with how emotional I've become! Until my boys are home with us, I don't think I'll ever fully be "Okay"...

While people can say to trust God's timing, unless you've really done this, it's hard to fully understand that trusting God's timing is not always easy and I've frequently questioned it... Thank goodness God loves me despite my constant questions and second guessing of His time.

During this time, there's been a lot of refining in my heart and mind... I've had to give up control. Control of the situations and control of the timing. I've done what I can. Eyob cleared embassy and right now we are still waiting for Mikiyas to clear. The embassy is trying to get in contact to interview the police officers that were involved in his case. This is one of those things that I cannot control unfortunately. I cannot control the time it takes for the embassy to get in contact with the police. I cannot control whether the police will cooperate. I cannot control any of it. While I'm disappointed that we haven't been able to bring them home, and worrying about if we'll be able to bring Eyob in time for any treatment for him, I have to rely on God. I have to give up my need for control and remember that He has it under His control. And remember that God is good.  God is HOPE. And most importantly, God is peace. Peace for my heart. Peace for my ever doubting, questioning, worrying, fearing mind. God is here in my heart and mind. God is here in this adoption. And as bad as it hurts to not be with them, I know that God is with my boys! God is protecting them and loves them, even more than I do, which is hard to fathom.

The past 9 days since Eyob cleared has been full of sleepless nights as we've been constantly checking our e-mails being in contact with the embassy or to check if Mikiyas has cleared (because of the time difference, their daytime is our nighttime/early morning). By 10am, almost everyday I feel defeated and depressed that Mikiyas has not cleared and that's the moment that I've learned I need to, instead of run to my pillow, run to God and allow Him to comfort me with his amazing unending love and promise that He is GOOD and that He has not left my boys and He has not left this adoption from the very beginning over 2 years ago...

Many have asked what they can pray for specifically. Here are a few specifics:

- Pray that the police cooperate and that the embassy is able to get the answers they need (in a timely fashion!)
- Pray that the embassy will get the answers they need in order to not send Mikiyas' case to USCIS Nairobi (which can add weeks to our wait)
- Pray that when Mikiyas does clear, that there will be somewhat inexpensive plane tickets available (as many have been selling out so many options are more expensive) for when we would like to travel (preferably right away)
- Pray that when it comes time for us to finally bring the boys home, that it will not be too late for Eyob to have treatment for the Plagiocephaly. That we either bring them home very very soon, or that Eyob will actually be a bit younger than we think and that his skull won't be as developed.
- Pray for Michael and I. For patience throughout this last leg of the journey....

My next blog will hopefully be about Mikiyas clearing... Hopefully we'll find out SOON!!!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

All God

So, my biggest worry throughout this adoption journey is that WE get the credit and not God... It's common for people who hear our story to say something along the lines of "Wow! That's awesome! Good for you guys! There need to be more people in this world like that."  I don't want the credit. I want people to see God throughout our journey and see that the glory goes to HIM! Not to us! God is the amazing one! God is the awesome one! God is the one who has written this story from beginning to end... If it weren't for Him, we would not have felt the conviction and direct call from God to adopt. HE put that in us. HE put the love for two boys who are not our own so deeply and intertwined into our hearts that it seems "normal" for us....

But, if you haven't seen God at all in our story, here's one more bit that may help you see Him....

We had been waiting for medical slips to be submitted to embassy for 2 weeks and had no idea when we would get them. We needed them quickly. As I said in my previous post, Eyob has severe plagiocephaly and time is so important right now for him. I knew the longer we waited to be submitted, the longer it would be before we could bring him home, potentially causing it to be too late for any such treatment. On top of that, it could take 2-8 more weeks (or even longer) once we were submitted to clear. I decided to e-mail the embassy to ask what our options were for expediting the boys' cases and briefly explained Eyob's medical issues. They said they could expedite the paperwork once we were submitted. I was hopeful!

Then I got the blow just a few hours later that Eyob had been put on medication for exposure to TB and that the doctor would not give the "okay" slip until he finished the meds. We had no idea how long that would be and that it could possibly be an additional few weeks. We didn't have that time. Every week that went by was one week less treatment for Eyob. I decided to once again email the embassy to see if there was anyway we could go ahead submit without their medical slip so they could work on the investigation while we waited for the slip. Usually they don't. We prayed. We asked for prayers from our church, church elders, and friends. The embassy said yes, go ahead and submit.

So we submitted on Wednesday. Knowing that the intake screening process can take 1-2 weeks, and then the investigation starts which can take another couple weeks to a couple months. We were hopeful. We prayed. We asked for more prayers from our church and church elders. Ilana prayed that we could bring them home soon and I heard her constantly talking in her room to God about it. She came out and said "Mommy, God told me they would be home in about 2 weeks." I said "Well, honey, I know you want that, but more than likely it'll be longer than that. You can surely pray that, though!" (one of these days I'm going to finally learn to trust her intuition... Sometimes I wonder if she has a direct line to God...)

24 hours after submission, we got an e-mail saying they completed the intake screening and would begin investigation (again, usually this takes 1-2 weeks). Not even 48 hours later we got an e-mail at 2:45am saying Eyob had cleared! Did you read that?! Eyob CLEARED!!! ONLY God could do that!! We then got an e-mail just a minute later requesting the phone number of a police officer for Mikiyas' case. Immediately, I got out of bed, woke Michael up, told him, and we began searching frantically for our in-country director's phone number to make sure he had gotten the same email so he could send the phone number to them. Hopeful that Mikiyas could clear, too. We didn't want to have to go get Eyob and leave Mikiyas behind. That poor sweet boy would be heartbroken and wouldn't understand...

After an hour, I was about to give up and just call the Ethiopian police department myself to find the man's number. But Michael finally found the scrap of paper that we had written the director's number on months ago and Michael called him via Skype. He tried over and over for about 15 minutes because the call wouldn't go through (a common thing in Ethiopia). Finally, Woudneh answered, Michael told him about the e-mail and Woudneh replied with an "I'm on it." and a few minutes later sent the number to the embassy.

By that time, it was 4:45. I knew I needed to get sleep, but it was hard... I was able to get an hour more and then just got up to take a shower and to get busy. I have a LOT of stuff to do before we get the boys! Finish laundry, get their clothes hung up, finish up the house, and later get more necessities for them (like socks, shoes, pants, onesies, bottles, diapers, and carseats!).

We have NOT gotten the clearance for Mikiyas but are hoping to possibly Monday? The embassy closes early on Fridays. Will you please pray for a miracle that Mikiyas will be cleared?? We want to travel next week, but can't until we receive notification that he cleared, too.

Seriously, though. How else can you explain this? Something that was supposed to take a few weeks to a couple months took not even 48 hours?! God! ONLY GOD!!!!!!

So... Now what? If Mikiyas clears on Monday, we hope to travel sometime next week. It all depends on plane tickets as many are becoming sold out! If we do travel next week, Ilana was right.  They will be home in about 2 weeks. Amazing!!! We will be flying out of Tampa so for anyone who wants to make the long drive up there (it will be worth it, promise!!) I'll update with details on Facebook. :)

Thank you for all the prayers in the meantime!! So excited and feeling so thankful and blessed!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


First of all, I've been working on memorizing this Bible verse which is perfect for what I've been going through the past 7 weeks.

"Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that He has promised." - Hebrews 10:36

It has been a long, heart aching 6 1/2 weeks without my boys... I've eaten my weight in Oreos which seems to help a bit!  Sunday we had an amazing prayer open house that was thrown by my sister. It was SO amazing and I think EVERY family who adopts should have one! We were covered in prayer by so many people. Simply amazing...

Anyway, many already know who saw on Facebook, but we have been officially submitted to the US Embassy! We are SO excited to finally get to this point. One step closer to our boys being home... Unfortunately, we have NO idea when the coming home will be (could be anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months). Eyob was recently put on medication for exposure to TB. We have no other details besides that. Hopefully we can get more info in the next couple of days. We prayed last night for a miracle, because the doctor will not give the medical slip basically saying "You're clear to travel" until he finishes his medication. With not knowing how long that will be and Eyob needing to come home quickly (more on that in a bit), we decided to see if the Embassy would somehow allow us to submit the boys' cases without these medical forms and turn them in once we get them. We, along with many others, prayed last night. I woke up to an email sent at 4am saying that yes, they would allow us to submit without the medical documents. What an amazing answer to prayer!!! God is SO good and faithful!

So, the reason why we need to get Eyob home quickly... He has *severe* plagiocephaly, meaning the back left side of his head is extremely flat and misshapen due to him laying on his back for so much of his life. Upon talking with doctors and some amazingly helpful people at our Children's Hospital, I got a bit more information about it, and while they obviously can't give me medical advice since they have not seen Eyob, they did explain to me about the treatment and what would be happening. The problem is, they try to have treatment (using a re-positioning helmet) started before they turn 12 months. Eyob is now 14 months. Every month that we wait is one month closer to him not being able to have ANY treatment. The older they get, the more their skull becomes permanently fused and harder to reshape. According to most doctors and clinics, 15-18 months is the cutoff. 

We're praying for more miracles that the Embassy clears the boys quickly so we can get them home and get sweet Eyob to the doctor. Will you join us in praying for them to expedite their cases? Will you pray them home? Will you also pray that he will be able to finish the TB medication quickly so we can get those much needed medical forms? Please pray that there is nothing that will hold up their files from clearing!

Lastly, I'm not sure if everyone read our recent blogpost, but it is SO important for anyone who is actively following our adoption journey. Especially family and local friends... PLEASE read it to know what to expect. Just click HERE.

Thank you everyone for the prayers!!! Can't wait until I can finally post that we're on our way to bring them HOME! :)