Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pictures of Peaches - We're changed forever!

Some of the pictures of Meddie Grace......our lives are changed forever!

 Meddie, Heather, and Meserat - one of the Special Mothers at Hannah's Hope (they are always warm and always smiling!)

The greatest traveling group around!  Three toddler girls going HOME!!!

The carpet that welcomes you to the Riviera Hotel in Addis.  Their spelling may not be the best, but their friendliness was flawless.

 What a smile!!!

 The three girls at the Addis Ababa airport getting ready for a midnight flight.  Everyone was watching them.

 Meddie at the Addis airport.  Soon to begin a 27 hour trip HOME!

 The three girls arrived safely at the Amsterdam airport!  Saying goodbye as they head their separate ways.  Looking forward to many reunions with those girls.  Meddie asks about them every day!

 Trying some oranges at the Amsterdam airport.  The egg McMuffin was pushed to the side.

 Still smiles after the first eight hour flight.

 The first night at home, ready for bed, united with her sister Sunshine.  What a bond that has developed already between those two!!!

 Life is good playing with Eddie Joe

 Air Hockey with The Big Fella in the basement is good too

 It takes a lot of clothes to go outside in Nebraska

 There will be many, many hours reading books on Momma's lap.  Life is good!

Injera and wat - complements of Tanya Henn - Thanks Ta!!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Airport Party!! We're Home!!

We partied at the Sioux City airport last night as we arrived home with our Meddie.  There were 50-60 people who showed up to laugh, cry, love, and celebrate the moment with us.  We are so thankful for an amazing group of friends!!!  What can we say to so many people who have walked this road with us??

Our wonderful friends blogged about the homecoming over at their blog.  Please click HERE to see their post.  Thanks so much Denise for your beautiful post. 

We are overwhelmed by God's goodness today as we wake up to an amazing Gambella girl playing with dolls and shoes and balloons and cars and on and on!  Is she really home?   WOW!!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Some Pics from Ethiopia and Day 2 Summary

Our final goodbye to Hannah's Hope.  We loved our time there, but are even happier leaving those gates with our girl in our arms.

My good friend and my favorite waiter Sebesebie.  I can't begin to tell you how warm and kind the people here are.

A little exercise at 7500 feet elevation!

Fun in the hotel room with games and toys

We love you Meddie Grace!

Update from Day 2 – Thursday 3/24/11

Last night sleep was somewhat elusive as my body was convinced it was daytime.  But, we both managed to get more sleep than we thought we would and Meddie slept for a solid 12 hours!  We are very thankful for that.

Breakfast consisted of the usual omelet and porridge for me.  Heather had an omelet and we could not get Meddie to eat anything.  She would just shake her head and make it clear that she was not eating.  Our favorite waiter, Sebsebie, was so kind to continually offer different things to her, but she refused.  There were three very nice ladies from Nigeria in the restaurant this morning that took an interest in Meddie and us.  They asked about her and when we told her that she had been left as an orphan and we were adopting her, they were so excited and said over and over again, “God bless you, God bless you, you will be wonderful parents to her.”  It was fascinating to think that we were adopting a child in Ethiopia and talking with women from Nigeria and there seemed to be a commonality between us.

Later in the morning we ate an early lunch since we were to leave the hotel at noon for our Embassy appointment.  Meddie ate a good amount of spaghetti noodles and chicken which she seemed to enjoy.  We then loaded into the Hannah’s Hope bus to head to the US Embassy.  The two other families and us have all been to court together on the first trip and were now all headed to the US Embassy together.  It’s been fun to share this experience with two wonderful families.

We drove for maybe 45 minutes or so through the heart of Addis.  The city has a population of 4,000,000 people, but has no stop lights or stop signs.   So it’s a constant merging of traffic that occurs.  There seems to be an understanding of how things should flow and together the traffic weaves in and out of itself creating a somewhat productive flow.  We saw much poverty along the way and were reminded of the incredible wealth of America.

As we made our way down the final street toward the US Embassy, we could see the US flag waving in the distance.  It was a good sight.  When we pulled up the Embassy, we were impressed by the massive walls and building that stand amidst the adjoining poverty.  We got out of the bus and approached the building, showed them our passports and then were allowed entrance into the gate house.

We were told before leaving the hotel to go to the Embassy that we should leave all electronic items in the hotel rooms.  No cameras, ipods, chargers, batteries, etc.  No electronics!  We were told anything we brought in would have to be checked at the security gate and it would result in a delay.  We were all sure we had cleaned out all of the electronics from our backpacks.  When we began to pass our backpacks through the scanners at the Embassy, they noted one by one that each of us had some type of electronics items in our backpacks.  It turned out that I had an ipod, two chargers, and some cords.  Another family had a camera battery and charger cords, and the other family had some “AA” batteries.  It’s funny how we Americans have so much electronics stuff that even when we’re told to completely purge our backpacks of those items, we can’t manage to get it all out in one try (mine actually had to go through the xray scanner multiple times before I found everything)!  The electronics items that I carry in my backpack on this trip have a greater value than the average Ethiopian makes in an entire year.  That’s a staggering thought with regard to our own affluence and with regard to how we use that wealth when there is such poverty throughout the world.

We walked from the guard house to a waiting room area where we waited for our names to be called.  The three toddler girls had a lot of fun playing on a small slide and small playhouse located in the waiting area.  I don’t know if everyone in the somber, stoic room appreciated all of the giggling from these three girls, but I know the proud parents all enjoyed seeing smiles on their girls.

Eventually our name was called and we were to go to window 15.  We approached window 15 and a man stood on the other side of the bullet-proof glass and asked for our passports and then asked us to raise our right hand and swear that we would tell the truth.  We were then asked to sign two documents.  The paperwork was slid back and forth through a typical sunken metal trough that went beneath the thick glass.  He asked us a series of questions, maybe 4 or 5, dealing with our adoption.  Then he told us about the paperwork that we would receive tomorrow and how we would use it to enter Meddie into the US.  He said she would enter the US as an American citizen since we traveled to her Court appointment three weeks ago.  Then he looked at us and said, “Your adoption is final and complete.”  And that was it.

I got goosebumps as he said those words.  It was finished.  It was done.  All of the paperwork was over.  She is ours and she is allowed entrance and citizenship in the US.  I wanted to yell in celebration but the somberness and formality of the waiting area said not to.  We thanked him and walked away from window 15 with the excitement that she was coming home.

We’ve seen playfulness from Meddie today and we’ve seen sadness.  She generally gets quiet, reserved, and even cries at bedtime or at naptime.  There is certainly some grieving that is taking place in her little heart during those times.  She has more of an affinity for Heather right now than she does for me.  Our lack of a common language will make the next several months interesting.  But we know she we learn quickly – or we’re hopeful for that anyway because if our communication rests on our learning of the Amharic language, there could be a lot of grunting and pointing for a lot of years!

We’re thankful for this latest milestone and want to give God the thanks and praise for His workings in our lives.  He put a burden in our hearts to adopt almost 16 months ago and has walked the journey ahead of us in unimaginable ways.  Many have said how fortunate Meddie is to be joining our family, and we have said over and over again how fortunate we are to be blessed by God through the addition of Meddie to our family.  We have seen Him at work and have tasted His goodness to the point that we just stop and say, “why us Lord, why us?”

Since the adoption is finalized, we are now able to post pictures of Meddie on public forums and you will begin to see pictures of her on our Facebook page and blog when we get home.  The internet here has been unavailable so I don’t know when this update will even go out.

Thanks again to everyone for their thoughts and prayers!  We feel supported by such a great network of friends and family and can’t begin to express our gratitude to everyone.


Friday, March 25, 2011

An Orphan No More - Day 1 from Ethiopia

Leaving Hannah's Hope - Forever Together - An orphan no more

Update from Day 1 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia -

We arrived in Addis Ababa last night after traveling for about 27 hours.  That included two 4-hour layovers – one in Minneapolis and one in Amsterdam.  The trip was fairly uneventful and the planes weren’t full, which meant we actually had some extra room on the long flights.  We landed in Addis exactly three weeks (to the minute) from the time our plane took off from Addis to head home after our first trip.

Since we flew over the Atlantic at night, and due to the fact that we didn’t have window seats, there was nothing to see on that flight.  But flying from Amsterdam to Ethiopia was a beautiful flight.  As I mentioned on Facebook, we were able to see the Austrian mountains, the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt, Sudan, the Sahara Desert, and the Nile River.  It was really amazing.  The Sahara is endless dunes of sand that stretches beyond your imagination.  We were desperately looking for pyramids and camels, but saw none.

This morning we headed to Hannah’s Hope to see Meddie.  As we walked in the gates, we could hear kids playing back behind the toddler building.  It is a beautiful sound to hear at Hannah's Hope as the kids have so much joy as they play together.  I wasn’t sure how Meddie would respond since we had to leave her behind after the first trip.  Would she remember us?  Would she be upset that we had left her?  But as we rounded the corner of the building, we saw her playing at a table with some of the other kids.  I called out to her and when she looked up to see who it was, her eyes lit up.  She stood up and came running to us.  Wow, what excitement!

This trip has even more meaning to me than the first trip.  During the first trip, the adoption of Meddie became legally completed.  At that time, she was legally our child and it was irrevocable.  But, we had to leave her behind.  We had to leave her at Hannah’s Hope while we waited for our Embassy Visa paperwork to be approved to allow her entrance into the US.  So even though the adoption was legally completed, it still felt very empty.

But, on this trip, we get to bring her home.  That is so significant to us.  This morning when we went to get her, we were able to bring her with us to our hotel.  That was her first real step to joining a family and leaving the life as an orphan behind.  She will be staying with us at the hotel during this entire second trip.  She will be living with us, sleeping with us, eating with us, being one of us.  She is no longer an orphan.  She is with a family.  She is with our family.  She will never again have to wake up in the night wondering which worker is going to console her, or wonder whether she will be moved to a different transition home, or wonder which of her friends is leaving with a family and why not her.  No, the miracle of Meddie’s adoption into our family is now complete.  She’s with us, she’s no longer alone, she’s one of us.

Meddie still is somewhat reserved on one level, and yet is more lively than much of the time we spent with her on our first trip.  This afternoon she did not want to lay down for a nap.  Finally, Heather laid down on the bed and laid Meddie next to her.  Eventually Meddie fell asleep in Heather’s arms on the bed.  You can imagine the smile that was on Heather’s face!

Our internet is still spotty.  The wireless doesn’t work in our room (even though we’re in a different room and different building than the first trip).  And when I go to another location in the hotel room to pick up the wireless, my browser oftentimes won’t recognize the wireless signal.  So updates may be sparse.  I was able to get to Facebook once and was able to Skype with the kids.  Praying that Skype will work so that we can keep in touch with the kids.

We are grateful for all of our family and friends.  We are praying for God’s hand to be upon Meddie’s little heart and mind and that He would be gracious to pour strength and wisdom on us during this time.

Much love to all of you,


Sunday, March 20, 2011

She's Coming Home!

We are making the last minute preparations before leaving in the morning.  We are about to begin the last leg to end Chapter 1 of the adoption.  When I say end Chapter 1 of the adoption, I only mean the portion dealing with the paperwork and bringing her home.  That portion has been going on for about 15 months and we are ready to end that phase and move on to Chapter 2.

So in a sense, it feels like we are at a major milestone.  The struggles of waiting, filling out paperwork, paying fees, waiting, filling out paperwork, paying fees (you get the point) are soon to be behind us.  There are many, many things that God has taught us through that stage, but we are so ready to move on.  We leave all of the preparation stages and head to the having-our-daughter-at-home stage.  We know there will be many hard times, many good times, many struggles, many times of joy, but there is no other place we'd rather be in life than where we are right now - ready to hop on a plane, ready to bring our girl home.

These are exciting times for us and at the same time, these are scary times for us.  We're once again loading up on a roller coaster that is about to take us on a ride, whether we like it or not.  And yet, we know that God is in control, and that we rest in His plans, His purposes.  His grace is sufficient for each day, for each need, for each moment.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, please pray for our little girl.  She is about to leave everything she knows (for the third time in her short life), and begin a new life with us.  We will not know each other's language, so life will be a challenge for a while.  Her heart will go through untold fears and anxieties, so please pray that God would reach down and calm her heart and heal her soul.  He is more than able.

We will be bringing our little girl home in a week.  She will be coming to a house filled with love.  She will be coming to a house that has parents, and brothers and a sister.  She will even be coming to a house that has a dog and a fish.  But mostly she will be coming to be part of a family and she will be coming to be part of a  home.  She will be an orphan no more.  She will be our little girl.  She will be one with us and we will be one with her.  She will comforted, cared for, held tightly, and loved.

She's coming home.  She will never be an orphan again.  Never.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

EMBASSY DATE! Ethiopia here we come!

We got the call today that we have an Embassy date of 3/24....that's next Thursday!!!!   We are double-checking with our travel agent, but it looks like we will be leaving on Monday morning....that's in 4 days.....Yikes!

In the next four days, we will be spending time with two different families who are coming in from out of town, going to the wedding of Tessa Beaver where I will eat a lot of Cassandra's cake, getting five kids ready for stay at the O's house, getting a dog ready to stay at the V's house, getting a fish ready for....(well we'll just fill his bowl up with food), getting Peaches' pink, pink clothes packed, getting us packed, bills paid, and so on.  (It should be noted that Heather will do most all of the things listed above....well actually she'll probably do all of those things....with the exception of eating a lot of Cassandra's cake...that's my job.)

We are so excited to be bringing our Peaches home.  We will be home with her 10 days from today...can that really be???

Please pray for the many details that still need to be worked out, pray that everything would go smoothly during our Embassy appointment, pray that everything would go well with the kids while we're gone.

Especially pray for Peaches' transition as she leaves what's become home for her, again.  She was taken from her home to an orphanage last July, then from the orphanage to Hannah's Hope in November, and now from Hannah's Hope to the U.S.  She will once again have to leave what's become familiar for her:  her friends, her "family," the food, the language, the smells, the culture, etc.  This will be a very difficult transition for her and pray that God's grace would flood her soul and that He would flood us with patience, love, and understanding as we begin this transition with her.

We are so thankful for our many family and friends and can't wait for everyone to meet her!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our File is at the U.S. Embassy!!!

We received the call today that our file has been received and is open at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa!!!  It is very possible that we could have a 3/28 Embassy date which would mean that we could travel late next week!  If the U.S. Embassy decides that additional information is needed for our case, it could mean a week or two delay...or more.  We won't know for sure until either later this week or early next week.

The U.S. Embassy is the last step before we bring our Peaches home.  In case you're wondering, a Visa is required for her to enter into the U.S. and that Visa is granted by the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.   Hence the need for an appointment with the U.S. Embassy.  Now that they have our paperwork, they will investigate our case to make sure there are no suspected improprieties with the adoption.  With so much pressure on international adoptions lately, it is always unclear how long the investigation by the U.S. Embassy might take. 

Once we get the approved paperwork from the U.S. Embassy and we hop on the plane to come home from Ethiopia, Peaches will become a U.S. citizen when the plane touches down on American soil.  If the Embassy date happens on 3/28, then we should be back home as early as 3/31.  We are so close!

We celebrated tonight by heading out and buying Peaches some clothes. Yes, some more clothes.  Yes, they were pink.  That girl is going to look good!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The "room for more" is nested

I've been learning once again that there is nothing quite as productive and focused as a mother preparing a nest for her little one.  There is a clear vision and abundant energy that ensures the perfect place is ready - perfect in the sense of creating that place that will allow her little one to rest silently and that place that allows her own heart to rest silently.  It is in the preparation and completion of the nest that she finally rests and says, "I'm ready."

As the nesting energy became reality, Heather was suddenly in Target, then Old Navy, then Target, and then Target again.  All things pink were finding their way into our cart.  So many choices of bedding, pictures, bath towels, flip flops, dresses, pillows, and oh, the hair products and skin lotions too. Okay, so I may have put a few things in the cart, too.....okay, maybe more than just a few.....okay, so I have probably filled an entire cart all by myself.

This is a date that we've been waiting for for 15 months.  We began this journey knowing we had "room for more."  That room is now nested, and will very soon be the home of a little girl.  It is with great excitement that our entire family is ready to reach this milestone of our adoption, the milestone of bringing our Peaches home.  It is the milestone that on the one hand ends the adoption, and on the other hand is only the beginning.  We are so, so ready!!!! 

Oh God, why have you so richly blessed us beyond what we could have even imagined?  You are so good to us, goodness that we are so grateful for.

Photos above her bed include a picture of her beautiful smile, a picture with momma and dadda, and a picture with her two Hannah's Hope peeps L. Jewett and T. Huneycutt.

This is the bear we received from our Agency AGCI after we received our referral for Peaches.  That bear is ready for some lovin' from a little girl!

The room is ready for a lot of singing and a lot of laughter.

And our whole house is ready for a lot of LOVE!

The clothes are ready.

The dresses are ready.
Our whole house is ready for our Peaches.

Peaches - Your bed is ready.  Your clothes are ready.  Your room is ready.  Our hearts are ready. 
Come home soon.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Third Day Video "Children of God"

If you haven't seen the new "Children of God" video from Third Day.....well you need to. I won't try and describe it because I would only detract from their message because it is so well done.

Take a few minutes and enjoy their song and their message.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Our God Is Greater Than the Need

       Now we are back home. Now we get to process. One thing that comes to my mind is, "Why did God place me in America?" "Why am I in one of the most pampered countries in the world?" "Why wasn`t I born in Ethiopia as a street child with no mom or dad?" Instead, I am raised in a loving, Christian home with wonderful parents, with my own bed, my own clothes. ALL THIS STUFF! And yet we still grumble and complain and question God.

       It`s unbelievable. We are just so comfy in America and we still whine!! While we were there, we saw poverty. We saw third world things that you just don`t forget. And it makes you want to DO SOMETHING!! Oh and we saw the orphans. The orphans. The need is so great. 5 million orphans in Ethiopia. If that doesn`t make you want to adopt then seeing these kids will. But even if you aren`t called to adopt, God will call others. Yes, even though the need is so great and we think, "Who can overcome these staggering statistics?" I will tell you. Our God. Our God will stand out for these orphans and widows. And I will stand out and refuse to be silent. Because that is what we are called to do. Thank you for putting up with my rambling but it feels good to let it out.

  --Rye Bread

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Adoption is hard, but God is enough

There's a thought when you're in the middle of adoption that everything will and should go well.  Everything should be smooth.  All other areas of your life, that often bring difficulties, should take a moment's rest and leave you to effortlessly accomplish this important thing that you are doing.  The ship of your adoption should sail without conflict across the placid sea of life.

It doesn't take much time in the adoption arena to realize that this is very far from truth.  Though we may feel that by signing up for adoption, we should be exempt from most of the difficulties in life, it just doesn't happen that way.  We experienced this in a very real way on our first trip to Ethiopia last week.

There are many common things that we all face when we travel internationally on adoption trips, such as long flights (sitting way too close to "interesting" people), jet lag, different foods, different hotels, strange language, pollution that would rank "red" on the US pollution scale everyday, etc.  But there are other things that we might face that add even more difficulty to the trip.  For us, we faced sickness which completely drained two of our four family members and we faced a little girl that was scared, shy, reserved, and emotionally shut down for several days.

We had read much about attachment and bonding.  We knew that she came from a "hard place" and that it would be reasonable to expect her to be distant.  Having lost much, or actually everything, Hannah's Hope had become over the last three months the only thing she knew.  Her identity as a Gambellan child from the far western region of Ethiopia was gone.  Her home, family, culture, food, language, friends were all gone.  Who would blame this girl from shutting down when four very white people begin to surround her and speak to her in a different language?  We knew all of this was possible, and likely, but it was still difficult to process when it is happening right in front of you to the girl that will become your daughter forever.  It's OK for attachment problems to be discussed in a book, just not right in front of me with my Peaches.  Isn't there a way to just fix this?

To say I overreacted quickly and way too early is obvious.  I think the lack of sleep, jet lag, and traveling made it more difficult to process, it made me want to be able to just find the answer to the problem.  But it was clear early on that adoption is not about the fairy tale story of a perfect child being matched with a perfect family.  Our family is far from perfect.  We fail to love each other as Christ would every day.  We fail to serve each other in a God-honoring way every day.  We fall far, far short of living as we should.  We also found that our Peaches is not perfect.  She has many, many emotional scars that will take a lot of time and a lot of love to heal.  They are scars that only the far-reaching hand of God can touch.  They are scars that we as a family will work through together.

It became clear to us through our exhaustion, physically and emotionally, that adoption is hard.  It is filled with waiting and let-downs and pain and work.  In addition, other areas of life don't take a rest when you step forward to adopt.  Life continues to bring its challenges and difficulties.  And so we wonder why does it have to be this way?

It is because we do not find our ultimate satisfaction in any of these things.  Not in our family, not in ourselves, not in our lives as a whole, and not in adoption.  No, our ultimate satisfaction comes from God.  He is enough to satisfy us.  He is enough when life is hard.  He is enough during the wait of adoption.  He is enough when the eyes of your adoptive daughter are empty and distant.  He is enough when everything around you seems to be relentlessly closing in on you.  He is our satisfaction.  He is our joy.

Please understand that there were many, many beautiful moments with our girl.  There were many times when we laughed and giggled and played and had wonderful interaction.  There were many times when she looked at us with eyes full of life, full of love.  Times when she shared a smile that made you wonder how so much joy could come from a child who has been through so much.  Those times were good.  Those times were great.

But during the other times we remembered, adoption is hard, life is hard, but God is enough.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Meeting Peaches

We arrived in Addis on Thursday, Feb 24th at about 8:15 am (Ethiopian time).  We had left Washington DC at about 10:15 am the previous day.  With the time change, it was about a 13 hour flight.  It was strange to wake up in DC, fly 13 hours, and then it's the next morning in Addis.  Where did the day go?

After landing in Addis, we headed through Customs (where I was chastised for taking a picture of Heather going through Customs - btw - the Customs guys are serious people!), then baggage, then baggage X-ray (they want to X-ray our luggage after landing??  Why?), then on to our hotel shuttle.  After a couple of Ethiopian locals loaded our luggage on to the shuttle (you don't ask them to, they just grab your luggage and go), they looked at us and said, "we load lots of bags"...pause...."we load lots of bags".....pause...."we load lots of bags."  Finally, the light bulb came on in the mind of someone in our travel group and realized that these guys want a tip!  We paid them, loaded in the shuttle, and then our travel group of four families headed for the legendary Riviera hotel.

Upon arriving at the Riviera, we had hoped to receive our itinerary, so that we would know when we would meet our kiddos.  To no one's surprise, there was no itinerary, so we were left to wait for further instructions.  After traveling for 8,000 miles, we were ready to get to Hannah's Hope and see our little ones, but had no idea when.

Trying to get our minds around the fact that it was morning (our bodies said it was midnight), we had lunch and waited for our shuttle to Hannah's Hope....which we found out would come around 1:30 pm (in Africa the word "around" before a given time is very important).

Eventually the shuttle arrived and we headed for our girls.  As we approached Hannah's Hope, the building and gates were so familiar from the many traveling families' pictures that we have seen.  Our hearts raced as we knew the girl we had waited so long for was just moments away. 

As we all entered through the gates, we looked around and saw only one girl.  Heather and I gulped as we realized who the girl was.   It was our Peaches.  She was quietly standing on the porch of the toddler house.  Not sure what to do, we began to call her name.  She began to hobble toward us (we later found out many of the kids had received shots in their leg that day).  As she reached us, she was extremely quiet and reserved and we were unsure whether to hold her or keep a cautious distance.

This girl that we had seen 50 or 60 pictures of over the last 3 months was now standing right before us.  We had been called to adoption nearly a year and a half ago, and now there we were with the girl that would soon join our family.  She, of course, was unaware of who we were or why these white people would be emotionally overrun and wanting to hold and touch and hug her and speak to her in a strange language.

Realizing our Peaches was isolating herself from us, the director at Hannah's Hope intervened and picked her up and as she did pinched Peaches' sore leg and she began to cry a very sad and scared and painful cry.  She was sent away to one of the Special Mothers (workers at Hannah's Hope).

So there we stood.  The whole thing lasted maybe two minutes.  Our entrance into the gates of Hannah's Hope that we had dreamed of for so many months, turned into something completely different than we had expected.  But that's adoption.  That's the reality of dealing with a heart that has been broken.  A soul that has been scarred.  A mind that is confused.

We were later reunited with our Peaches and enjoyed getting to hold her and touch her (Heather added that she enjoyed getting to smell her too - but that apparently is a mom thing).  Spending that first day with her was an exhausting time, considering we had started the day before on a plane in Washington DC and ended it by holding a beautiful little girl in a transition home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

We were overwhelmed with the utter exhaustion we felt after this first day.  Thrilled and filled with adrenaline, yet our minds and bodies feeling the tug of the clock which said we should long ago have been asleep. 

There is much more to the story of our interactions with Peaches that occurred over the next several days - highs and lows.  But that will have to wait for another post.

For now, a few pics of us with our girl. 

 Looking at her photo album together

 Sharing some bread at the end of the first day

 Heather getting the chance to help feed our little girl in her "Feed 1" shirt

 Play ball!

Oh yeah!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

We're home....but have a Peaches-sized hole in our family

We're back home after our first trip and are trying to remember what normal life is.  Following a whirlwind trip to Ethiopia and back, battling jet-lag twice, fighting colds, fevers, and other stuff, we feel like we've been hit by a truck - a big truck, a big truck that races at harrowing speeds through Ethiopian traffic.

We are so thankful to be back home with our five oldest kids, but there's a hollowness because our newest, youngest kiddo is still half a world away.  We know that she is in one of the best run facilities - they provide much love, laughter, food, fun, etc. - but they cannot provide the one thing that she really needs....a family.  We miss her already, but we know that she will be home soon.

Reflecting back over the last couple of weeks, I'm thankful for God's sustaining power in our lives when we're weak.  I'm thankful that He's with us and that He holds us when we're tired.  I'm reminded that He is always in control.  I was reminded specifically of this as we began our first flight across the Atlantic.  I was reading in Matthew and I came across the verse that says that not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from the Father (Matt 10:29).  It was good to see that sparrows (and really big Ethiopian Air jets) stay flying by the Father's sustaining hand.

I was encouraged by the timing of meeting a man who grew up in the Anuak tribe in Gambella, Ethiopia on the shuttle from the hotel in DC to the airport.  Did I mention that Peaches is from the Anuak tribe in Gambella, Ethiopia?  I was encouraged by the number of American couples we met before boarding our Ethiopian Air flight who we traveling to Ethiopia for adoption purposes.  I was encouraged by the young couple with their 18 month old girl who were traveling to Rwanda to see friends and to see if God was leading them there to be missionaries.  It was clear that God was with us and was leading us.

There is so much to write, and I hope to continue to summarize and meditate on what God has taught us.  We know He has great purpose in all that He does.  We just need to stop and have a Selah moment to reflect on His message for our lives.  What is He saying to you today?

For now we miss our little girl, but our hopeful to return to her soon.  Based on other families' timelines, we expect to be back to her to bring her home around April 1.  But in international adoption, anything can (and will) happen.

A few pictures of our trip......with more to come.

 Thanks Tanya for your mad, packing skillz!

 At the Omaha airport, all luggage was checked for free!  Thanks Delta!

 My new Gambellan friend, Purro

 The Ethiopian flag in the DC airport

 The snacks on the plane?  Ethiopian Jet crackers.  Fortunately, we avoided any bad visual images and all of them were intact.

 What does a 13 hour flight do to an otherwise young and good-looking couple?

 At Bole International Airport in Addis.  We're here!

 Our Hotel Shuttle.  And you thought flying was scary.....wait until you hit the streets of Addis!

 Coca-Cola in any language is a good thing....especially when you can't drink the water.

Matthew 10:29-31
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.