Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving "Highlights" and Happy Birthday to Baby E!



This weekend we went to visit my family for Thanksgiving several hours away. During the mad food-prep rush, I sent Davis to pick up a forgotten ingredient. On the way to the grocery store, his car died. That's right - d i e d. We spent the day after Thanksgiving getting his car towed to a repair shop only to find out the tranmission was blown. His car was old enough that it didn't make sense to sink any money into it so we had to buy a new car! Needless to say, the timing of this major purchase was less than ideal. However, we are grateful that God provided us with the exact car Davis wanted at a great price. Ironically, the tranmission place where his car was towed (note the cross on the building!) was just two blocks from the dealer where he found his new car.

This Thanksgiving also marked a first in my family. Each year, my mom puts a whole potato into the opening of the turkey. This is supposed to seal in the juices and make for good stuffing. Every Thanksgiving, she carves a letter into the potato. It's often our last initial or my grandparents' last initial. This year, Baby E and Little Miss J were honored by making it onto the Thanksgiving Turkey Potato. Lucky Ladies! Given that their soon-to-be mom is a vegetarian, this is pretty funny. It was so sweet of Grandma to think of the girls and honor them at the Thanksgiving table.

Finally, today is Baby E's FIRST BIRTHDAY! This has been a bit harder for me than I anticipated. Missing your child's first birthday is a bummer because that only happens once in a lifetime. However, I know we are preparing a beautiful place for her and will welcome her home with open arms very soon. Today a neighbor on our street turned 90. All of the neighbors put balloons out in front of their houses to celebrate this special man. Little did they know, they were celebrating Baby E too! In her honor, I made some yummy double ginger and lemon glaze cupcakes that we shared with friends and neighbors. They were quite good (I know this because I ate three of them - oops). We also made a fun Happy Birthday video that we will show her someday when she is old enough to appreciate how dorky we look singing to a camera in our empty dining room! Happy Birthday, Baby E! Mommy and Daddy love you and are coming to get you soon, little girl! Don't grow up until we get there, ok?

(A few of you have asked why we don't call the girls by name or post pics on our blog. We actually aren't allowed to do this - yet. Once they become legally ours, we will be able to share a lot more with you!)

video

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Baby Shower #2 and Some Special Visitors




This weekend, I had my second baby shower celebration. The girls in my small group at church hosted a sweet luncheon to celebrate the coming arrival of the little ladies. They made a vegetarian Ethiopian stew for a lunch called Aleecha (along with some incredible lavender scones). The stew was so good. Thanks to Jenny and Sheryl for taking on this culinary adventure! Also, they gave me a beautiful scrapbook with messages welcoming the girls and lots of great books for their library. They had even included name plates for the books with the girls' names on them and sweet messages - many from their kids - saying how excited they were to meet them. One of the most creative gifts came from Tami (our crafty friend) who is making the girls little aprons for cooking with Mommy in the kitchen. So fun! I was so honored that these sweet girls - most of whom have many Mommy duties of their own - would take the time out their busy weekend to honor me with such a special girls' day.

We also had some of our dearest friends from out of town visit this weekend. They also have two little girls - one of whom is just a bit older than Little Miss J. It was fun to see some of the things we have collected so far being used by an actual kid! It was very fun serving morning oatmeal to a little person at our new little table! Little Miss F (our friends' daughter) and her baby sister were kind enough to endure a day of returns and purchases at Babies-R-Us, Target and Costco. Little Miss F asked all about my girls and provided some 3 year old guidance on what toys she thought they would enjoy. Thanks also to Mama Laura who provided lots of great Mom Wisdom about all kinds of things. While at Costco, we found a doll that both Laura and I agreed we could not pass up. She is so beautiful and looks a bit like my Ethiopian beauties! Davis also enjoyed practicing his Daddy skills with our little visitors. He's going to be a great dad.

I'll close with a quick invitation. If you haven't seen this video yet, please check it out. It's from my hero, Tom Davis, and the ministry of Children's HopeChest. They are currently launching a new outreach in Ethiopia and they are looking for people to sponsor Ethiopian orphans for just a little over $30 a month. Talk about a great investment!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Highlights from Baby Shower # 1!



This weekend, I had my first baby shower! My mom and sister-in-law went all out to throw the girls and me an absolutely beautiful party. I was so touched by all the work that my sister-in-law and my mom (and the countless kind friends she roped in to help!) did to make this day so special. My mom even included personalized pink and white M&M's with the girls' names on them and a video montage she created with pics of us and the girls set to music from the African Children's Choir and the "Baby Mine" song from Dumbo (total tear-jerker!). I enjoyed celebrating our coming adoption with some of my dearest friends from high school and college (two of whom also have two adopted children) as well as my sweet grandma and my mother-in-law, who flew in for the shower from out of state! My mother-in-law also brought with her the first of the two quilts she is making for the girls. It's the cutest thing you have ever seen!

We spent the lovely afternoon noshing on coconut cupcakes, playing games about celebrity moms and babies (why do we know so much about these people?) and opening up oodles of presents for the little ladies. One of the most fun presents was a pair of pink t-shirts that read "Ethiopian Princess". Thanks to Alison, one of my adoptive mom friends, who picked these up from Cafe Press! We also got our two carseats from my grandparents - a true blessing given how expensive those suckers are! My grandparents had also ordered, with my mom's help, a personalized wooden puzzle of Ethiopia with the girls' names on it. What a special gift!

It was hard to even know how to respond to so much love and generosity poured out not only for us, but for our children. A verse written in one of the cards I received is fitting when considering what I have seen through this process: "But he lifted the needy out of their affliction and increased their families like flocks...whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord" (Psalm 107:41,43). Seeing such an outpouring of support from these dear women served to remind me - again - of the great love of God made manifest to us as we love each other.

When we got home from the shower, Davis and I had fun unpacking - and playing with - some of the girls' new toys. We hope they won't mind. A definite highlight was getting their little table and chairs put together and staging a tea party with the dog.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy National Adoption Month!



November is National Adoption Month and November 15th is National Adoption Day here in the United States. Given that our awareness of the needs of orphans is heightened this month, I wanted to take a quick moment to share a bit more of our own adoption story. I realized recently that there are some of you reading this blog that are thinking what we were thinking almost exactly one year ago this month - "Is adoption something we could/would/should consider for our family?" If that resonates with you at all, or if you are just passionate about meeting the needs of orphans, then read on.

Let's start with some numbers. Here in the United States, we love statistics. So let's look at some hard data. Here in the US, there are approximately 129,000 children in foster care in need of forever families. Broaden that globally, and the numbers are even more staggering. The most recent report from UNICEF suggests that there are roughly 132 million orphans worldwide with "orphan" being defined as a child under 18 that has lost one or both parents. While the need for any orphan to find a home is critical, the situation in Africa, a continent that has been devastated by poverty, war and disease, is particulary desperate. UNICEF reports that there are 12 million orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia has one of the largest populations of orphans in the world with nearly half of the children having lost at least one of their parents. In 2005, a government official cited that HIV/AIDS, disease, hunger and poverty threatened to drive the number of orphaned children from 11 percent to 43 percent of the 45 million children in Ethiopia by 2010.

Those are some of "the numbers". There is some variance in the exact data depending on where and to whom you look for information but the bottom line remains the same. Worldwide, there are children who need us to see them, to notice their need and to act. They need us to, as the video above from Orphans Know More suggests, give them a face, a family and a future.


As I'm sure many other adoptive families can attest, the process of actually getting started can be overwhelming - it certainly was for us. There are so many variables to consider that it's hard to know where to begin. We spent hours on the phone and online trying to figure out what the "next step" would be. Thankfully, we had some adoptive families who were kind enough to give us some input that helped us to get started. If you are are considering adoption, it starts with just gathering information and getting educated about the need. The first thing we ever did was go to an America World Adoption seminar. That experience helped me to know that this was the "Plan A" for our family. The amazing thing is that there are so many ways to get involved. Maybe you don't feel called to Ethiopia like we do. If so, that's fine! God may have a particular plan for you that calls you to meet the needs of kids here, like our friends in Minnesota who are bringing kids from foster care into their lives and hearts. In case you are interested, here are some great adoption organizations that we really enjoyed talking to about adoption: American World Adoption, WACAP, Children's Hope International, International Christian Adoption, Children's Home Society, and Gladney Center for Adoption. This is a very short list but it's something to get you started.

The other thing I hear a lot from people is that they might consider adopting but they can't afford it. It's important that you know that there are resources available to help finance adoption. Here are just a few great leads on that front: Shaohannah's Hope, God's Grace Adoption Ministry, HIS KIDS TOO Adoption Bank and The Gift of Adoption Fund.

What we have learned thus far is that God will provide everything you need as you seek to take a step of faith. We have been amazed at how our needs are met daily in concrete ways as we prepare a home for our daugthers. Here's just a small example that has been really meaningful to me. We weren't sure who would throw us a baby shower given our unique circumstances. It looks like when all is said and done, thanks to the kindness and generosity of family, friends and neighbors, we will have had not one, but five, showers to celebrate our little ladies. That to me speaks in a tangible way of the abundance and grace of God and His heart for those in need.

So that's my one minute sermon on adoption! For those of you who are already on that wacky and winding road with us and just wanted a personal update on the latest latest, the girls' room is looking pretty fabulous thanks to amazing Davis. Here's a shot of him installing a light he built for me in Baby E and Little Miss J's new abode (I helped out with the painting!).





Thursday, November 6, 2008

An Update On The Ladies!

We finally got an update today on our little ladies! We feel like we have been waiting forever for this! The update from the in-country caseworker gave us a fun look into their little personalities. We got two new pics today as well. Baby E looks pretty terrified in her pic but Little Miss J looks just as fiesty as can be. She has a gorgeous mop of little black ringlets (her hair has grown SO much since her referral picture) and a huge 2 year-old grin that has "mischief" written all over it. Here's what they told us about our girls:

“This was the first time that I got to sit down and play with J and E, and they are so much fun! E is hilarious, because I'm not sure that she quite knew what to do about this strange white person showing her so much interest. After a few minutes though, she opened up and let me hold her, and really enjoyed playing with my face and hat! Though she still cannot stand or walk on her own, she can pull herself to standing and bounces around the edge of her bed. J is in the older kids foster care, so she spends all of her time with children who are her age or a bit older. This was great, because she took after them, and when I came to play, jumped all over me with the other children. ..It was very easy to get J to smile, because she was having so much fun with all the chaos that ensued from my appearance. E on the other hand, though curious, was much more reserved. I'll try to get one smiling of her next time!”

We can't wait to see Baby E's smiling face in the next picture. It's hard to believe that Lord willing they will be home in about two months! Please continue to pray for that court date. 12/17!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Generosity




This was a productive weekend! Our registries are all done, I picked out a swanky diaper bag, and we now have the crib almost all set up! Thanks to our sweet friends Betsy and Sky who handed this down to us for Baby E to use. We continue to be blessed and humbled beyond measure by the generosity of so many people. Earlier this week, my spinning instructor gave us a whole trunkload of stuff for the girls - and I don't even know her that well! Perhaps the best score was a set of little red roller skates that are made to be worn over shoes for toddlers learning to rollerskate. They look way too fun. Note to self: Add some helmets to the registry! We also filled up our trunk again on a weekend visit to Grandma's house. My mom gave us a wonderful set of wooden blocks (she had saved these for years thinking my kids might want them someday!) and some fun stroller blankets she bought at a craft fair. She also picked up two fabulous pink and purple princess crowns (see above) and tutus (I would have put one of these on too but sadly my Tutu is a bit big for these little tutus). Tutus and princess crowns are an absolute must with two girls! I think I may just take to wearing one around town or to work on occasion. You just feel so much better with a princess crown on! My dad also gave me a special framed picture he had put together of me and my mom when I was Little Miss J's age and my mom was the age I am now. It was really fun to see that. In all of this, I keep being reminded of how God longs to lavish his goodness and mercy on us and how He often does that through the people He puts in our lives. Our pastor mentioned this week that we know God's nature because of His actions in our daily lives. As our adoption story continues to unfold, I am growing in my understanding of how generous God is.