Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting on the World to Change

It's been a while since my last post considering my last post was in Ethiopia. I've been wanting to write but haven't wanted to really think about this whole waiting game. It's getting down to the wire and this final stretch is seeming to be the hardest wait that we've had.

The last couple days in Ethiopia were wonderful and really hard. After the court date we decided to start going to the transition home with the boys for a couple hours a day. We wanted to make the transition for Abram a little easier by bringing him back around his friends and his nannies that take care of him. It was a good decision and even helped our transition in leaving him and Ellis there. It was also nice to be able to get out of our guest house for a few hours everyday. At the transition home we got to spend time with the children waiting for their families and their nannies. It's a wonderful place where we know they are being taken care of very well. There is a full-time nurse, cook, cleaner, and lots of nannies to help the children. We also got to meet some of Abram's friends and learned that they feed him very well! Probably why he's gained 8 pounds in 3 months!

This is how we found out he has friends:
While we were there they moved transition homes. We went one day to try to help move things. Tony helped move while I helped a lady attend to 14 babies at one time! It was chaotic. But we were there when all of the children 2 and over showed up. We were standing with Abram watching all of them get out of a van when we hear this shriek from the van. It wasn't a shriek of fear but a shriek of pure joy. We then saw this little boy hop out of the van and heard him yelling, "Bruke, Bruke!!!" He was so excited that his friend was back to see him. He ran straight over to Abram and reached his hand out to touch him...we were a little shocked by Abram's reaction, well not too shocked. He immediately shoved him away. It was a sad scene. The little boy was so happy to see him but Abram was not so happy. Abram often got sad when we took him back to the transition home because I think he knew the day was coming when we would leave him there. He had seen it many times before and knew his time was coming. However, that little boy's excitement gave us hope and helped us see that he had friends and was loved. We also have hope because not only does Abram see children being dropped off but he also sees them being picked up again by their forever families!!!

We are still waiting and hoping for our time to come. We have kept in touch with the three other families we were with in court. I was doing ok in waiting because I knew none of them had heard. What I was most scared of was that they would hear something and we wouldn't.

My fears became a reality about three weeks after we had been home. We have a news feed going on facebook with the families we were in court with. The first family posted..."We got the call!" This was very excited and kept us hopeful in that it would soon be our time. Then the second family posted..."It's a no go." My heart sunk. I knew that we would soon be hearing one of these two things and the anticipation was almost unbearable. Later that day the third family also posted that they had heard it was a no go and their birthmother was to be interviewed again. At the end of the day I knew my fear had became a reality. All of the families had heard something except for us. This was probably the hardest time in the waiting. The time had gone by fast until now and until I've known it's possible for us to return. Each week we keep getting our hopes up and so far they have been shut down. But it's ok!!! We are still hopeful and know that God is working it out! It's just hard to keep getting your emotions up and then getting them back down again.

Throughout that day I was sad that we hadn't heard and was also scared of what we were going to hear when it was our time. The next morning Tony received an email that said our birthmother was to be interviewed again. That means it's a no go...but only for now. We also heard that all of the interviews were booked and there was no room for our birthmother to travel with the rest of the mothers from her village. Once again, hard emotions were coming. We then received a beacon of hope when they said they got her in and she would be traveling with the rest of them. We also were told they could approve it on the spot and were asked what days we could come the following week! Well, tomorrow was supposed to be the interview and it turns out to be an Ethiopian holiday. Once again our case has been delayed and hopefully the interview will take place next week. So as of now we are waiting, praying, and trusting in our Sovereign God who is working all things out for our good. We know that he is teaching us and taking care of the boys better than we could ever take care of them. It's just that once again our hopes were lifted and then let down. I kind of wish they wouldn't tell us such things and would just tell us after they happen. But when I really think about it I'm glad they keep us informed. So please continue to pray and we will continue to wait on our whole world to change!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Our Court Date

The day we had anticipated had finally arrived. It was the day that would determine if two orphans would be in our family. Many people had been praying for this day and we were very hopeful. We were told to be ready by 9 so Tony took the boys to breakfast and I got ready. I then met them at breakfast and the driver arrived. We were not prepared! We had 5 minutes to fix all the bottles for the day, Tony to get ready, and to get all of our paperwork in order (very important paperwork). So we rushed down to the room with the boys, I made the bottles, Tony got changed and we ran out the door. I didn't even get a chance to say bye to Abram and later found out that I had on two different earings the whole day, even infront of the judge.

As we went outside we were happy to see some friends that we made on the plane. We then drove to pick up two other families who were going to be going to court with us. It only took a few minutes to get to the courthouse and we all got to know each other and talked about the children we were going to adopt. This man took us to a room and as we entered it was quiet and full of people. We didn't know where to go due to most chairs being full. When we found a seat I started looking around the room because we knew that the birthmother was in there. I spotted her right away. I could tell by her mouth. One thing the boys have in common is their big lips and their mouth is always open, this is also the one thing they have in common with their birthmother. She was a tiny lady and was the only one with teary eyes in the court room. We had heard before we went that the fathers were different and they were unknown but didn't find out later until why.

As we sat there they called groups of people in and out. We didn't know why the people were appearing before the judge and just awited our turn. After the group called organization (the birth parents) went in and out they waved all of us in. It was a relief to go in as a group. We had been rehearsing what we were going to say when the judge asked us Why we wanted to adopt from Ethiopia and what not. Turns out we were nervous for no reason. Right away she put us at ease. She was a beautiful and genuine woman. She was very calm and spoke to us very well. She simply asked us questions as a group. Two of the families there had already adopted from Ethiopia and she mostly wanted to know how their children were doing. She asked us as a group if we had received training, yes. Do we know adoption is permanent, yes. We're we prepared to help with their identity crisis as adopted children, yes. Would we teach them about Ethiopia, yes. And that was it. Then she started pulling out the files. She read the first family and said approved. It was a joyful occasion and my heart started to pound. She read the second family and said approved. There were tears in the room. The third family was us and she said the letter had not been received but was coming today. This was good news. It went by so fast that we weren't exactly sure what was happening. But I asked her today and she smiled at me and said I hope so in the most sincere way. The fourth family's letter had not been approved and they didn't receive the same news as us. Hopefully their letter will also come soon.

After we left everyone was explaining to us what she said and telling us to be hopeful. And we were. God had brought us this far and there was no need to worry now. Then the unexpected happened. They brought us outside and standing there were all the birth parents. They started pairing us up and naming the children. They said Bruike and Sitotawe and I was right. She came forward and we came forward. At first I didn't know what to do so I patted her on the back. She was a tiny lady who ends up being the same age as me. By her size I thought she may have been much younger. She smiled and we just stood beside each other not being able to yet communicate. Tony and I were not prepared and had no idea what to do so we just watched everyone else and followed their lead. The other families started showing their birthmother pictures. They even had photo albums to give them. So Tony pulled some pictures out of his wallet and we gave them to her.

Then the really unexpected happened. We all got in a van together and they told us that they were coming with us to see our children. What! Atleast that's what we thought at first. Afterwards I understand and was happy that she got to see them for the last time. She told us she was happy that we were taking them.

We first went to the other guest house and our children were not there but we got to talk to her. We asked her about her family, we asked her about the boys and their birthdates. By what she said it seems we have a 4 month old and a boy who will be 3 in May. These ages seem more than accurate. We then asked her why the fathers were unknown and were shocked by her answer and that she actually told us. It is due to her occupation. This broke my heart and I wish we could take her with us as well. We then asked her what she wanted us to tell them and she just said she wanted them to be educated, she wanted them to be men, and she said that she loved them.

She was a very intelligent woman. She knew some English and spoke two different languages and was able to interpret for the other families. I wish we knew more about her. But we took pictures and hugged and she said she was happy. She then came with us over to see the boys. She smiled really big and got them right away. Neither of the boys seemed to recognize her but they sat with her for a picture. She was only with them about 5 minutes but I hope it was a peaceful thing for her. I hope she knows we will love them and take care of them as our own and we told her they will always be thankful for their birthmother.

The rest of the day was just an ordinary day here. We played with the boys, took naps after lunch, had dinner, etc. Abram didn't seem to be affected by the activities of the day. It was a good day but we were still lingering. We called our representative later in the day and he said the letter should be there in the morning. Today we went out to the transition home and had a wonderful day in the city that I'll try to write about soon. While we were out our representative called our driver for the day and told us the good news. Tony could hardly hear what he was saying but said, "I think he just told us we were approved." We were able to celebrate with some friends we have made at the guesthouse at a nice cafe. Abram ran around and played with other boys while we sat in airconditioning and had some pop. It was a wonderful day! Now we are moving to pray for other things. We pray that the Visa applications were correct and that they will be processed soon in order for us to get an Embassy appointment to come back and get the boys!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Day of Firsts!

I just wanted to write a small post because I'm so excited. I just fed Ellis his first rice cereal!!! ANd he liked it! Well at first I thought he would either throw up or start crying but I let him take some down with a bottle and he got used to the idea. Hopefully now he won't want to eat every two hours! He was craving him some rice cereal. Another first, we're about to give Abram a shower or bath depending on which one works out the best. They keep him nice and clean at the transition home but it's his first one with us! That's really all the firsts I can think of just so excited I had to write. Here's a few things we love about the boys: Abrams deep belly laugh that continuosly fills our room. Ellis starts to laugh a little when he's falling asleep and smiles a lot when we change his clothes. Abram is a cuddler. Anytime we pick him up he just puts his arm around our necks and lets us hold him. Ellis is good at looking deep into your eyes and his are so beautiful you just want to keep starring back. When Abram eats he gets food everywhere but doesn't mind and he will eat anything. As of now he really likes fruit snacks and oranges, but he's not a big fan of animal crackers. Ellis is happy when his brother is around. We could go on and on. Now this post may seem like total bliss but nothings perfect on this earth. We can tell Abram is getting more comfortable cause his rebellious (sinful) side is starting to show but this is a good learning experience and we're trying to figure out how to handle it. He's so smart he's already starting to understand things as ask him and tell him to do. Which also shows his side when he doesn't respond to come or no or now. But we think he gets it. We're still giving him his medicine and it still makes me cry to think he would still be sick if we hadn't come. He's getting better though. Please pray that when we take him back to the transition home he will understand that we are coming back for him. Please pray that the weeks we are gone will only be like a couple days in his mind. We are bonding so fast that I'm going to be scared to leave him on thursday. Also pray for our court date tomorrow! Hopefully the Embassy will like us and will declare them our boys. That's all for now. We'll let everyone know how the court date goes!

Our First Day as a Family

It has been only 2 days and there is already so much to say, therefore I'm going to do it in sections! THE MEETING: The meeting and the first day were better than we could have ever expected. We got ready in the morning, packed our bags for the day because we thought we'd be spending the day at the transition home but it turns out we were only there for 20 minutes. When we got in the car the driver said it was only a few minutes away but a few minutes turned to 30. We were pretty distracted by the sights we were seeing and all the people we noticed starring our way. Our trip was also full of prayers, not just prayers for what was about to happen but prayers for our safety as we weaved in and out of traffic. When we got to the transition home we gave our camera to our driver Daniel just in case the boys were there as soon as we walked in. That wasn't the case. But when we did walk in we were greeted by probably 10 little smiling faces. We had noticed several of these faces from our agencies website and it was so fun to get to see them in person and to know that all of these little precious orphans were not going to be orphans for much longer. When we arrived we asked for Bruike and Sitotawe but Bruike was getting cleaned up by his nanny so we spend some time to play with the children. Tony brought a huge blowup ball for them to play with and they loved it. They all went wild. Sadly though this one little girl got trampled on and her finger started to bleed. She started crying and me and Tony were the only ones there to pick her up. Most of the Nannies spend time with the babies and there were two middle school aged boys watching the older children. As I picked up the little girl I almost wept thinking that no one was there to see or kiss her boo boo. So I did it for her. She was sweet and I know soon her mother will be there to heal her wounds. Well the time came and we walked up the stairs and there Abram (Bruike) was. I had been anticipating this for a long time now. I tried to prepare myself for the worst and decided to try to stand off just a little bit. Well as soon as I saw him I stuck out my hand and he walked over to me and put his arms around my neck. I picked him up and he just laid his little head on my shoulder and squeezed my neck. I don't know what was going on in his head but I was thinking is this really happening. Could this be as sweet as it seems. The first day just continued to get sweeter. I held Abram for a while and they took us to the baby room. As we walked in they handed Ellis (Sitotawe) to Tony. We were all smiled at this beautiful baby who just let us hold him. The next few minutes the boys just let us hold them while we asked their Nannies questions about their schedules and what not. Within a few minutes it seemed as though us and the boys were ready to leave. By this time Tony had Abram and I had Ellis in my awesome new Moby wrap! Anyway, the young boys who were watching everyone took Abram out of Tony's arms to give him a hug and he immediately started to cry. When Tony took him back the tears were gone. On the drive home I was thinking this is crazy. Ellis fell asleep on my chest and Abram laid his head on Tony's. No tears, no need to bribe with candy. They just sat there and took it all in. THE FIRST DAY: It seemed as though they had always been ours. When we brought them into the room Ellis was ready to eat so I made him a bottle and Abram just went and laid on our bed. He spread out and smiled. From that point on we played as though we always had. From what we had seen of Abram before we thought he would be quiet and reserved. But that hasn't turned out to be the case. He's full of laughter and joy and can even be a little to crazy at times! The first time we heard him laugh we jumped to get the camera. It was only a few minutes after we'd been in the room and there has been much more laughter since then. Abram has become Tony's little buddy. I'm so thankful that Tony now has someone else to throw a ball at and Abram likes it. He runs and laughs and then tried to hit Tony back. He also enjoyed coloring, playdoh and all the usual things. He seems to be very smart. We love him and it's funny to see the simliarites between him and us. He is our child. :) One scary and unexpected thing was he is sick! He seemed ok in the morning and then after lunch you could tell he felt terrible. He slept for 2 hours and then woke up with a 103.5 temperature! All within God's providence our Guest House owner and his wife a nurse came to visit us. The nurse was there when we took his temperature and immediately sent someone to get him antibiotics. Thankful to say those antibiotics are working and Abram has felt wonderful all day. When I checked that temperature and gave him his medicine is when the tears began to flow. I was scared and so sad thinking he had been sick for so long and there was no one here to give him his medicine. I know that is will be hard to leave but I'm thankful for the timing that we are here to make sure he gets his medicine and will hopefully be healed by the time we leave. Ellis is a sweet baby who begins to smile at me more and more as I changed him and feed him. He's pretty laid back but seemed to be a little high maintenance until I started putting Gripe Water in his bottles. Things are getting better although he's on his own schedule and seems to be wide awake from 2-4 a.m. But that was only the first night. Another scary thing happened today when Ellis projectile vomited out of his nose and mouth right infront of me. I think that this is normal and he seems fine but please pray that he is. Sorry for the details, the last detail I'll add is that he's the most beautiful baby I've ever seen. :) THE FIRST NIGHT: Our first night was crazy! Abram was sick and Ellis likes to eat when he wants so I can honestly say it's the first time I've seen the clock every hour in one night. But we made it and have better hopes for tonight now that we've figured maybe one or two things out and can better prepare ourselves. Looking back on what was happening in the night is pretty funny to think about. We were scrounging around looking for bottles and wipes, flashlights, chairs. We had 2 wet beds and the baby pooped everywhere! I went to move him a little and stuck my hand in poop. However, I was just thankful that he did poop and was concerned when he hadn't. Both of the boys are asleep now and hopefully this night will be better. If not we're still thankful for God's provision in our lives and for the opportunity to love these boys through it all. This is a long post and I probably have much more to say. But that is just a little glimpse at how these past two days couldn't have been better. Abram seems to fit right in and continues to come out of his shell. We are starting to learn things that we never knew and are excited that the journey has only begun!