Thursday, March 31, 2011

We Have Arrived!

Well we made it! After a few of the longest flights we've ever been on we finally arrived at the airport in Addis! From the get go we noticed a few differences in the culture that mostly made us laugh such as people cutting lines, telling us to move, moving our bags if they were in the way. There wasn't much personal space. Anyway...after the flights and going through customs we were greeted by this beautiful girl who was holding up a sign that said Tony Wells. As soon as I saw that sign we just smiled at each other and she knew who we were. Seeing her sweet face was more than welcoming and made me feel so Happy to be here! The same sweet girl just made us breakfast and will be helping us with our boys! After we left the airport we got on a short bus to be taken to the home where we are staying. It was dark out but now that it's morning we are looking at the beautiful yet rundown city and mountains that we couldn't see last night. It was a short drive that ended down some very dark and bumpy alleys...Tony and I just looked at eachother and started laughing! I said, "We are Crazy! We're in Africa and tomorrow we're going to get our Africa babies!" Tony is talking to Agiee our sweet helper and she just informed us that the boys names, Bruike means Blessing and Sitotawe means Gift. In a few minutes we are going to go meet that beautiful blessing and gift. Now the tears have started. Hopefully more updates will come soon! We're going to go get our boys now so not sure how much time we'll have to blog, but will make a great effort. As of now we are not nervous but excited and prayerful. We know this week may be tough but it won't even compare to the goodness that will come from having these boys with us home.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Good News, The Bad News, The News

The Bad news...Ethiopia to cut Foreign Adoptions by up to 90 Percent. We had heard speculations a couple weeks ago about things changing in Ethiopia. You're always warned when you start international adoption that the country or agency could close when you're right in the middle of it. It was never something I worried about and didn't think would happen. Thankfully it hasn't happened but some things are changing. When we first read the article above it was a little shocking and did bring forth some emotion. We had lots of people asking us what this meant and if the door had been closed to our adoption. Our initial reaction to the article was thankfulness that we already have a court date but came with questions of how long we would have to wait for our boys. After researching for information we have found that hopefully all the news and changes in Ethiopia will not affect us at all. The following is hopefully some helpful information to help you understand more about all of the commotion in Ethiopia. It all has to do with an agency called MOWA:

"The Adoption Team in the Children and Youth Affairs Office (CYAO) operating under the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) is the primary adoption authority in Ethiopia. MOWA has responsibility for all activities regarding children in Ethiopia, including welfare, foster care, domestic adoption, international adoption and investigation of neglect and abuse. When an orphaned or abandoned child comes into the custody of the Ethiopian government, the police and MOWA create the child's dossier."

"Upon completion of an international adoption from Ethiopia, MOWA prepares a request to the city of Addis Ababa for the issuance of a new birth certificate, in addition to a request to the Office of Security, Immigration and Refugee affairs for an Ethiopia passport for the adopted child in his/her new name. Both of these are best facilitated if the requests are hand-carried to the relevant offices. The U.S. Embassy needs both the new birth certificate and the passport to complete the child's U.S. immigrant visa application process."

MOWA is responsible for reviewing each individual case and sending a letter to the court system for approval. We've known cases that have not passed and it is usually because there is no letter from MOWA. The cases pass contingent upon receiving the letter. Therefore when we heard they had been writing 50 letters a day and we're going to take it down to 5 that's why we thought our case would be delayed and we would have to wait a long time for our boys.

Yesterday we read some really GOOD NEWS about the situation in this blog The WayFarer. After the announcement was made to only write 5 letters a day the director and other employees have been terminated. They have now completed their staff changes and are focusing their attention on the approx. 800 cases of current families waiting on their children. Thankfully we are in those 800 cases. It was also helpful to read a week ago in court every single case passed. I don't know if that's ever happened. Also MOWA are no longer limiting the number of letters being processed and have written up to 25 in a day. This is Great News. All of this turmoil may be helping us and hopefully will be improving Ethiopian Adoption all together. It seems to my limited knowledge that they are cleaning it up and hopefully making it more efficient in the long run. The sad thing is we have already heard of families that did not have referrals that have had to end their journey of adopting through Ethiopia. We will continue to pray for these families as they deal with the loss and confusion of what to do next. We should also pray for the leaders in Ethiopia making decisions regarding the lives of 5 million orphans and the families longing to bring them home.

Thoughts from the Beach...

It's been a while since my last post and that's because we recently enjoyed a wonderful vacation with 22 college students in Destin, Florida. It's a great privilege to be able to take people to the beach as part of our job. For a while I wasn't exactly sure how or even if the trip was going to happen but it all came together beautifully at the last minute. This trip was such a great balance of fun and relaxation, time with God and time with people, getting to know new people while going deeper with old ones, it was awesome and we could really see lots of prayers being answered that we'd been praying throughout this past semester and year.

As wonderful as this trip was it was somewhat bittersweet. It was almost so enjoyable that I had feelings of sadness when I thought we weren't going to be on summer project this year or that we'd not be taking trips exactly like this again. I knew that our next trip to the beach was going to be a little bit different because it wasn't just going to be Tony and I anymore. Next time we go to the beach there are going to be two little additions to our family. Of course that brings excitement to our hearts and thoughts but if I'm being honest I had thoughts about things I wouldn't be able to do next time we go to the beach. I questioned things like when would I be able to sleep in again, or go for a jog in the morning, or go lay out on the beach all day long. I felt a little selfish at having the luxury of doing that already but found myself thinking and counting down the years until I would be able to do those things again. As selfish as that seems it did cross my mind a time or two.

The good thing is, those things like sleeping in, laying on the beach, and running aren't what I find my joy and satisfaction in. The satisfaction and joy in my life truly come from my relationship with Christ. This is what I kept being reminded of on this trip. I kept remembering the gospel and the call of it on mine and Tony's lives. I kept remembering the promises from Gods word of how we will rest in heaven, how his plan and purposes for our lives are good, and how his steadfast love for us will never end! That brings me reassurance in knowing that these boys are going to be a gift from God. Even though I may no longer have the luxury of sleeping in for the next 10 years, Gods' plan is good and right and we are going to have an unimaginable joy from living, loving, and learning with our boys! I left the end of the week more ready than I've ever been to go meet them and be with them til we grow old. I left the week refreshed, excited, encouraged, and loved by the creator who won't leave us or forsake us but will give us strength and comfort, and etc, I could go on and on and on again. Anyway, I'm so thankful for a creator that loves me and that has planned this adoption from the beginning. I know He's brought us this far and isn't going to leave us now. So here we go! It's time to start packing cause Ethiopia here we come!

These women are an answer to prayers we've been praying for years. Some of them knew Christians, some of them old, all loving the gospel and loving Christ. I'm thankful for the friendships that we have and the encouragement that they are. I'm also thankful for the great help they will be when the boys are here and how excited they are to babysit and to love on them soon!

Lucky for me this guy is ready for some kids to play with!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Letters to Our Boys

A couple of weeks ago the Staff Women of Campus Outreach took me out to dinner to celebrate our adoption. I love being with these women. I always leave our time together encouraged, refreshed, and wanting to hang out more. I knew that our time together this night was going to be how it usually was but for some reason felt a little uneasy about it during the day. I'm not sure if it was something I ate or nerves but my stomach was in knots all day. When asked if I was excited for the night I responded with a yes but also wanted to say that I didn't know how I felt about it. It felt weird going to a "shower" with the uncertainty of children. This was before we had received our court date and we still thought we would be waiting at least another 3-6 weeks until we received word. As I said in an earlier post receiving the court date was the first time this adoption has become real real for us. Needless to say I was a little nervous about the shower. I felt weird and almost selfish asking people to gather and bring money together for children that I wasn't 100% positive we were going to have. At the end of the night I realized all of these emotions and feelings were wrong and there was no reason for me to be sick to my stomach that day. God is in control and this night helped me realize just that.

After dinner we went back to one of their houses and had dessert. I noticed all of them taking turns going in and out of the laundry room. They were trying to be sneaky but it was hard not to notice, especially as people stared at me and smiled as they entered the room. Well, i knew it wasn't a laundry party and just figured they were signing a card which is usually what we do at showers, birthdays, etc. Little did I know the surprise they were going to bring me. (Tears just started flowing as I wrote that last sentence) Anyway...

After we had dessert and talked for a little bit they brought me a big basket full of goodies! It had handmade blankets, sippy cups (if that's how you say it), a jar full of money, and two journals labeled with an A and an E. As soon as I opened the journals I saw letters written to the boys. I immediately closed the journals and put them back in the basket as tears welled up in my eyes. I told them I was grateful but would not be able to read those in front of anyone. The letters were full of prayers and excitement and you could see the love they have for our boys. I am thankful for these women, their love and encouragement in our lives, and the joy they will bring our boys one day. Here are what a couple of the letters said...

You are a blessing from God for your mommy and daddy. You will fill their lives with laughter and joy and have been a prayed for gift! We hope you will carry on the gospel heritage of your parents! Love,

I cannot wait to meet you and watch you grow! you are going to have so much fun being a Wells! I love you already and have been praying for you. Love,

Abram and Ellis,
I hope you know that you are loved and cherished by so many people! We have and will continue to pray for you. I cannot wait to watch all
that God will do in your life and where he will take you, I pray that you will put your trust & hope in Christ as your Savior. We love you,

We always liked the saying it takes a Village to raise a child and we are very thankful for the "village" God has blessed us with. The boys will be leaving a village but coming to another full of love, laughter, and joy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Court Date

Getting a court date is one of the most exciting days and things you wait for in the adoption process. Throughout the entire process you do paper work, you wait, you get excited because something goes through, then you do more paperwork, do more waiting, and then you get excited for the next thing to happen. It's the cycle of adoption, you love it and you don't love it. It's fun getting excited but then weird when the emotions settle down and you realize you are once again waiting. Up unto this point I've known that this adoption is going to take place and that very soon we will be the parents of two beautiful boys, but nothing has made it feel more real than receiving a court date.

When thinking about getting a court date it's almost like you're expecting this huge ceremony with cake and balloons and all of your friends to be there and the agency to send you a box with roses and a certificate saying you've arrived. But that was not the case. It was one of the most nonchalant announcements we've ever received. But I loved it exactly the way it came.

I had just gotten home from running, or meeting with a girl on campus or something, came in and sat down on the couch. Tony and I were just talking while he was checking things on the computer and all of a sudden he throws a fist pump in the air and shouts, "We have a court date!" I was so surprised that my first and typical reaction was to laugh and then ask him to repeat what he just said. So once again he says, "We got a court date babe!" I was slightly confused and then asked him what happened and when is it and then he showed me the email. The email makes me laugh because of it's simplicity about a subject to complex to comprehend. The subject line simply says, "Your Court Date" and when you open up the email April 4. Please make arrangements accordingly. I love that. Such a big ordeal in such simple words. Needless to say after we got the email both of our personalities showed. Tony was running and screaming all over the house and outside of the house, while I sat on the couch with a big smile on my face and thought about who to call. Having a court date and buying plane tickets is one of the most exciting times I can remember in my life. But it's also one of the most scary times I can remember. It means this is REALLY happening and within a couple of months we are going to be the full time parents to Abram and Ellis. We could worry or be anxious but God has really blessed us in just being able to wait. To wait and pray and know that we're going to love them and that this was his plan all along. Some scriptures that I have been clinging to during this time are:

Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Phillippians 4:6, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

Isaiah 12:2-3, "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."

It is because of the goodness, the glory, and the grace that God's poured into my life through his son Christ, that I know any and all situations will work out for good. My joy will come from the wells of salvation with which I can draw water (life, refreshment, substance and nourishment). Because my joy is from the Lord I can wait patiently and know that His will and timing are perfect and I have no need to worry. During this time of waiting and when they get here He will be my strength and my salvation!