Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Not my mom"

Yesterday afternoon was full of small conflicts easily resolved with a suggestion to "Try again with respect." I am so thankful that Nazeret and I are truly comfortable with each other and learning how to do this mother/daughter dance. Just three short months ago these small conflicts would have been full out melt downs for hours.  I believe this is becoming easier (for both of us) because we have attachment and trust that were not there in the beginning.

So, why the "Not my mom" title? Well, that one got lobbed at me at dinner. It's not the first time and I know it won't be the last. This one was different though because my baby girl added that she was not staying here; she was going home.  I felt the pain stab into my heart, but probably not for the reason that you think. I knew that her emotions had just moved to another continent. Her argument with me started over eating dinner before she could have a sweet treat, but now we were dealing with loss and grief.

I snuggled her in my lap even as she insisted that I was not her mom and she was not going to stay here.  She started to cry and talk about the people and places that she has lost.  She misses them and my heart breaks for her.  She wants to go home.  Who wouldn't?  The situations and brokenness of her life in Ethiopia have not changed; she cannot go back.  I don't take it personal (by the grace of God).  She loves me and I AM her mom, but she has to grieve the loss and this is just part of it.  I assured her that I will always love her and be her mom no matter what feelings she shares with me.

It was over as quickly as it began.  We sat down together, finished our dinner and had a sweet treat.  Later at bed time, she held her arms open for a hug and whispered in my ear "I love you, Mom."

Life is good....hard....but GOOD!!!!

I have to add how proud I am of my other two girls.  They handle all of this with such grace.  Nazeret's "issues" often show up at the dinner table which makes eating rather unpleasant.  They worked together to clean all but mine and Nazeret's plates and gave us some space.  When we finished eating they rejoined their little sister (all forgiven) to play and watch a VeggieTales Sing Along.  I am so blessed to have three wonderful daughters!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What I am learning about love

"You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
--Christopher Robin to Pooh

As we approach our "home 3 months" mark, I am reflecting on how much we have all grown and changed individually and as a family.  When God first called us to this journey of adoption, I was filled with fear.  I told God that I was not brave enough; there is NO WAY I am strong enough; and I am NOT "one of those" smart parents.  I can NEVER do this.  He promptly told me that I was right!

You see God doesn't call up people who are full of themselves.  He wants to use people who are willing to be full of Him.  There were many days before Nazeret came home with us and many sense  that God has waited for me to remember that I CANNOT do this, but He can.  When I ASK and allow God to fill me with his perfect love, my fears are quieted and He is able to love my family through me.

Adoption is not for sissies! I have seen this said many times and I cheer inside each time.  It is true that adoptive parenting is very hard at times, but the hardest part is learning what God is teaching you through it.  The Bible says that God's perfect love is casting out fear. (1 John 4:18) Oh how I want to truly bask in His perfect love and never be afraid, but Satan knows my weakness and he hits me right there EVERY time.  Well...he may hit me there, but I still have to choose who I am going to believe.  Fear could have stopped me from experiencing the blessing that Nazeret is to our family.  I cannot imagine my life without her, but that was a choice.  I came to a cross road and I had to decide who I was going to follow.  It is still a daily struggle to trust that God's love can cast out all my fears and that He is ALL I need to....well....He is just ALL I NEED.  This is a lesson that God wants me to teach Nazeret and I so want her to be free.  (People, we can only imagine her deep rooted fears.)  How could I possibly teach this lesson without learning it myself. 

In the process of trying to accept and experience God's perfect love, I have tried to practice the Biblical definition of love.  I often repeat 1Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices when the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures.

Christopher Robin's words to Pooh are very encouraging, but I am so thankful that I don't have to be brave or strong or smart;  I just have to choose to allow God to be all of these things in me when I love the things that He loves.

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.  James 1:27

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School

Today was a HUGE day for the Kuykendalls; the girls went "back" to school today.

Amelia was blessed with simply going back to school.  I am so thankful that this was the situation for her.  Other than Nazeret, I believe Amelia has experienced the most change by adding another child to the family.  She started fifth grade today with teachers she already knows at the same school she has attended for years.

Nazeret still wins the prize for the biggest change.  She started her first day of formal education ever this morning in first grade at the same school as Amelia.  She has wonderful support from her teacher and other staff.  I am thankful that she was so excited to go and didn't have any issue when I left the class room.  As I walked out of the classroom door with her eyes on me, I placed the palm of my hand to my cheek.  (We read The Kissing Hand last night and I was reminding her that she can feel my love with her anytime by placing the kiss I gave her in the palm of her hand to her cheek.)  She raised her hand and placed it to her cheek with a BIG smile.

Michela had a BIG change this year too.  She home schooled last semester, but decided to return to public school this year.  Today, she started high school!  My first born started HIGH SCHOOL!!!  Where did the time go?  She can't wait to finish school and head to Africa.  We can't wait to see what God has planned for her life now and in the future.

After many tears of joy for how well the morning went and some time on my knees praising God for His miracles, I am enjoying some peace and quit (something I have not experienced for the last 3 months)!  I'm going to bake some cookies and then go get my girls.  I can't wait to hear all the chatter and giggles as they share their day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Two Months as a Family of 5!!!

We arrived home from Ethiopia on June 11; that was two months ago today. Wow, so much has changed in two months.  In that first month I wasn't sure I would ever be able to go back to work, but I have been seeing patients in the mornings for the past month.  Michael went back to work today and we are all missing him.  I am taking off again while we make the adjustment to school.

Yes, Nazeret is going to start school in one week.  She doesn't fully understand, but she is excited.  She will be starting first grade and her teacher is also an adoptive mom. God is so good to work out the details!  She has been learning so much and I believe she is going to do great in school.

Our first month was so hard and full of so much change for all of us.  This second month has been smoother and a lot of fun.  We are all getting to know each other better.  Nazeret has the words to express her needs and feelings, when she chooses to.  We are starting to settle into our "new normal".  I am so thankful for the support of our friends and family.  Thank you all for your prayers.

Today, like almost every day, we watched Ethiopian dancing videos on YouTube.  She LOVES this and I enjoy seeing her face light up.  Today she even put on her traditional Wolayta dress to watch.  It still hurts my heart so deeply that she is not growing up in her beautiful country.  I'm so thankful for the love that God has placed in my heart for Ethiopia.

Some firsts for Nazeret in the past month:

Nazeret and Amelia went to music camp at our church every morning for a week.  They learned an entire musical and then performed it for friends and family on the following Sunday evening.  She LOVED it!  She may always remember the songs and motions.

We went on our first road trip.  (Nazeret does not like to be in a car.)  We went 3.5 hours south to New Braunfels, TX to take Nazeret to our favorite water park , Schlitterbahn.  She was fearless and road every ride with her Pap (my dad).  We all had a blast (except Amelia: she was having her own fun at church camp) !  Nazeret later explained that the "water house" was fun, but she was NEVER going back because it is "too long!"

Nazeret finally got her ears pierced.  She started asking to get them pierced when we were in Ethiopia for our embassy appointment.  She was so brave.  She only made a face when the piercing gun popped.  Now we are counting down the days until she can take out those simple studs and replace them with dangles.

Some of my favorite new phrases:

What to go? = This question comes when I look like I am going somewhere.
One! = "Give ma a minute."
Sort of = You get that one; it's just so funny to hear from her.
Owee ah-NO! = "See how tough I am; that didn't hurt at all." (ears pierced)
Finger house = This is the place you get your nails painted. :)
Ice-cream house = Nazeret's favorite place to get ice-cream....EVERY day!  Don't judge; it's HOT!

I am thankful for the bond that has grown within our family over the past two months and I know it is in large part due to the gift we were given of time to spend together.  As we return to our routine and introduce Nazeret to school, I know that we have a great foundation to build on.

Monday, August 1, 2011

People always tell me how lucky my daughter is.

Nazeret has a very special little friend that she met in the orphanage.  They were from the same region and spoke the same language.  They were moved together from the orphanage to our adoption agency's transition home.  The language at the transition home is Amharic.  These two sweet little girls did not speak Amharic and so they had each other as they learned a new place and a new language.  I can't even imagine this kind of bond.

God arranged for these girls to meet their parents the same week, but due to government systems they did not get to come to America at the same time.   Nazeret has been home for almost 2 months and her friend came home this weekend.  Tonight, the girls got to Skype in America for the first time.  My heart was filled with such a strange mix of joy and sadness as these girls discovered that they could no longer communicate.  You see as Nazeret has learned more English (and she kept telling her friend, "I English."), she has lost her original language.  I am excited about how fast Nazeret has learned our language, but my heart is breaking for what she has lost.

My beautiful daughter has gained an entirely different life, but she has lost so much.  It's hard to see that as lucky.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Better Than the Tooth Fairy

She's holding the little box with her two baby teeth in it.

Yesterday, Nazeret had to have dental work done under sedation.  She had several minor things done, but they also removed two baby teeth that were not making room for the permanent teeth that were ready to come in.  The doctors were amazing! She was amazing! Recovery was great!

As we were driving off the technician came running out with a little box containing Nazeret's two teeth.  I hadn't thought about them because the tooth fairy is NOT going to be visiting our house.  I have read that this concept can cause more fear than fun for some adopted children (and really all children).  Nazeret wanted to see her teeth and then she made some gestures of throwing something into the air and said "and then the teeth they come in".  I was very confused.  I didn't know what she was trying to say, so I tossed the little box of teeth into the air and caught it.  This made her laugh.  She explained it again.  I could tell it was something about tossing the teeth into the air and then pray for God to bring your new teeth in.  WOW! I still didn't quite have the whole picture, but I thought it was pretty cool.  With a little help from another adoptive mom with a child from the Wolayta region of Ethiopia and more explaining from Nazeret, we finally understood that she wanted to throw her teeth where they would stick into the moon and then pray for God to bring in her new teeth.  COOL!

We waited for the sun to go down.  Michael and Nazeret love to take a swim with the moon and then shower and go to bed (I much prefer swimming with the sun.), so she got her swimsuit on and threw her teeth at the moon.  We then said a prayer for God to bring in her new teeth and she went for a swim.  It was a very special evening.

Notice how far those feet are off the ground.  She wanted to make sure that tooth made it to the moon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Yesterday officially marked one month that we have all been home together.  It has been a L-O-N-G month.  There have been so many changes for all of us.  None of us have had as many changes as Nazeret; her whole world changed in the blink of a 17 hour flight.

That's right, we started our trip home with a 17 hour flight.  Nazeret LOVED the take off (and had all the passengers on a 777 cheering), made a trip to the potty every hour, and HATED her seatbelt...and ALL the food.  We landed in DC and Nazeret became a US citizen right there in the airport.  We then waited 9 hours to get on our plane to Dallas, so that we could sit on the runway for almost 2 hours waiting for take-off.  We finally made it home after 30+ hours of travel.

We got home in the middle of the night, so we didn't get to see Nazeret's reaction to her new home, but she did try on ALL the clothes in her closet before going to bed.  Between jet lag and whatever upper respiratory infection I picked up, it was a rough first week.  I honestly don't remember a lot, but I do remember the second week.  This would be the week that I didn't recognize my newest child.  This was the week of HUGE adjustments.  This was the week that I lost 10lbs, a lot of sleep, and wondered how I was going to ever survive my new life.  This was the week that God showed up in a HUGE way and reminded me that HE was going to get us all through the adjustments.  God brought new people into my life who gave me such encouragement and He brought out old friends who met our needs when we were just getting through each day.  God is good and His mercy is new every day.  We have all grown and changed so much this month, but Nazeret has changed the most.

NAZERET, you are "a so silly girl"!  You are so outgoing and funny!  You love people and you have already claimed some of our closest friends and family as "yours".  I have been amazed by how much you have learned.  You are a very smart girl. 

Somehow, we kept you from knowing we had a pool the first week we were home.  (I think you were just too tired to care.) That second week you were in the pool.  Swimming lessons were a must your third week home and now you swim like you have been doing it your whole life.

Another funny thing about you is your sense of direction.  You are 7 years old and you have been drawing a mental map of our little town.  You already know the locations of home, church, Mommy's work, the doctor, and the best place to get ice cream.

We have come through our first month (I believe it is the toughest).  I am looking forward to the steps we will take together next month as we prepare for you to start school!  I love you and I thank God everyday that He has allowed us to be your family.

Friday, July 1, 2011


We are now a family of 5 and we are all adjusting to our new roles.  God is so good to meet us exactly when and where we need Him.

I haven't had time to post anything, so I want to go back to the time we spent in Ethiopia when we went to get Nazeret and make our adoption FINAL!

On May 26, Michael, Amelia, our friend Janet and I all left for Ethiopia via Washington DC.  We were so blessed to stay the night with another adopting family that we met on our court trip.  May 28 we arrived in Ethiopia and went to see Nazeret.  We had been away from her for 7 long weeks.  Our reunion was sweet.  It happened VERY fast because she saw her Daddy before she was "supposed" to and ran and jumped on him.  I don't know if anybody got pictures.  She also got to meet Amelia for the first time.

The next day, Nazeret left the Transition Home forever.  She would never be alone again.  She will always have a family!  Praise God!

We spent two weeks in Ethiopia and saw many amazing sights together.  The girls became sisters.  They played together; they slept together and Amelia really became a great big sister.  I am so proud of her.  When we had 7 days left in Ethiopia, Nazeret started counting down the days to come to America and see Michela.

Our memories of those two weeks together in Ethiopia will always be so precious.  I am so sorry that Michela could not be there with us.  It was great to have time with Nazeret in her environment, with her foods and where people spoke a language she could understand.  Thank you Lord for that sweet time and the wonderful people that we got to know while we were there: adoptive families and Ethiopian's who love the children and support adoption.

I think this has to be the most beautiful view of Addis Ababa.  Thank you David and T. 


Saturday, May 14, 2011

For Better or Worse...

Monday, May 16 is our 19th wedding anniversary.  For those of you doing the math, I was 20 years old when I got married.  We are so blessed to have Mother's Day, our anniversary, bring home our Nazeret, and Father's day all within a month!

When we got married, and I was just a baby, I discovered the Calla Lily.  It is such an elegant flower.  This has been our flower and a symbol of our love for the past 19 years.  A couple of days ago I discovered a beautiful "touch point" from God.  It turns out that the national flower of Ethiopia is...the Calla Lily.  All species of this flower are endemic to Africa.  Just another beautiful way that God has slowly woven a love for Ethiopia into our hearts throughout our lives.

If you will indulge me, I wanted to share some of my most meaningful pictures of the Calla Lily.

This picture was taken the year that our anniversary collided with the loss of our Nandad.  Notice the Calla Lilies in my bouquet in our wedding picture. (Yes, Michael had hair.)

 This beauty was growing in the Garden Tomb when I visited Jerusalem.

 Michela took this picture at the Transition Home the day we met Nazeret.

This was taken at one of the orphanages that we visited while in Ethiopia. It makes me think of a line from a Disney movie that goes something like this: "The flower that blooms in adversity is beautiful indeed."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I should be a professional "waiter" when this adoption is complete.  There is waiting involved in every step of this process from day 1.  Today, I am still waiting.

When we passed court after a two week wait, we were told we should be submitted to the Embassy on the 11th.  I have waited until today pretty well.  Tomorrow is the 11th and I don't know if we will be submitted or not.  Waiting doesn't seem quite as hard when you know how long you have to wait.  If we don't get submitted tomorrow, we will have to wait until the 18th and see if we get submitted then.  I just want to get back to Ethiopia and bring my daughter home. 

I've received reports from other families that Nazeret seems to be waiting well.  She is excited when visitors bring things from us and tell her how much we love her.  She has even shared (with another mom) something special that she would like her mommy to bring when she comes for her.  Yes, I think she is waiting better than I am.

God has really been speaking a theme to my heart over the past week.  You see, this adoption process feels a lot like a race to the "end".  Of course in some ways it is....in the "end" you get to bring your child home....but there it is: "The end is really just the beginning."  So I'm not looking forward to the end, I'm looking forward to the beginning.

I'm hoping and praying that tomorrow brings us one step closer to our beginning.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day 5...our last day

5 days!  We spent 5 days with our daughter in Ethiopia!  5 amazing days....ONLY 5 days.

Today is Mother's Day and I am finally sitting down to blog our last day together...until we go back to bring you home forever.

Our last night in Ethiopia was the first night that I slept well.  Our day started with a shopping trip.  We started in a really beautiful shop full of beautiful gifts arranged much like an American store.  We chose our treasures (all handmade items) and headed off to the Post Office area which is the market place.  We were given 20 minutes to get all the items we wanted to bring home and get back on the van.  Thanks to the help of our driver David, who is amazing, we pulled it off.   Our next stop was lunch.

I don't know how to explain the compulsion we had to get to Nazeret.  This was our last little bit of time together and the 3 of us would have been fine with skipping lunch...just to get to her faster.  That's not how things work, so we ordered and waited.  The power went out, so they had to come back and take new orders that could be cooked without the oven.  We ordered a sandwich with "imported ham" to share.  We really wanted out of there.  When they finally brought our sandwich, there was NO ham. He took our plates back and returned our sandwich with one thin slice of ham.  We didn't even care, we just wanted to get to Nazeret.

Finally, with mounting anticipation, we climbed in the vans to go spend our last few hours with our daughter.  Because it was Saturday, only the children with parents visiting would be out today.  We were excited to have the one-on-one time.  The time seems to stall and yet pass quickly.  I don't know how to explain it.  We just played and sat together.  I knew that one of the guides would come to us when it was time to explain that we were leaving.  We didn't have any idea what to expect, but we had prayed that she would understand.

We sat with her while Job explained to her in Amharic that we were going to go back to America (like the other kid's parents), but we would come back for her and then she would go to America with us.  He asked her if she wanted to go in a car or on an airplane.  She chose an airplane.  Good thing!  We had Job ask her if she wanted us to leave her bag full of goodies or bring it when we came back.  She pulled the straps up over her shoulder and zipped it shut....she wanted to keep it.  We had one last gift for her.   We had recorded our voices on one of those Hallmark books.  She LOVED it!  She called one of the older boys over and opened it.  She told him "Daddy!"  She turned the page and said, "Mommy!"  This helped to hold the tear in our hearts together.  Maybe she was really going to be okay until we could get back to her. 

Then it was time to leave.  She headed to the gate showing everybody and anybody, who would look, her bag of goodies.  Then suddenly she came straight to me hugged my neck and planted the most precious kiss ever on my cheek.  I asked her if she had one for Daddy.  She went to him and kissed his cheek when he bent down to hug her.  Without being asked, she went to Michela and kissed her too.

It was so hard to say goodbye, but God had answered our prayers.  She seemed to understand.  We were all doing better than anybody expected.  We would make it.

So here I am on Mother's Day waiting to get back to Ethiopia.  Today is a hard day.  I miss my sweet girl and I still don't know how long it will be until we bring her home, but everyday is a day closer.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 4 of ONLY 5

5 days!  We spent 5 days with our daughter in Ethiopia!  5 amazing days....ONLY 5 days.

Court Day April 8, 2011...this is the day we go before an Ethiopian judge to become Nazeret's parents forever!

I didn't sleep well the night before.  I woke up early and went downstairs to send messages home.  We had another adopting mom on a cot in our room. (Her husband had already gone home and she needed somewhere to stay.  That is how close you get to other families going through this.)  We ate breakfast and went back up to our room to wait.  I was so nervous and excited; I was sure I was going to be sick.  I chewed off all my fingernails (something I haven't done in years).  While we were downstairs, we heard that Duni was back and would be going to court with us and one other family.

I had heard so many great stories about Duni.  She works for AWAA and is a force to be reckoned with.  She had been out all week getting a signature for another family from a man that had held up their adoption for months.  She had gotten the signature and was back!  When she introduced herself, she was soft spoken, hair pined up in place, dressed in an American business suit, and wearing perfectly impractical shoes, topped off with a beautiful Ugandan magazine bead necklace. It was the next thing she said that brought me to a HALT, "The judge is not coming in today."  A million things ran through my mind.  This was NOT good news, but we would do whatever we had to do.  Duni declared that we would go to the courthouse and see what was going to happen.

The courthouse is just a regular looking building.  Michael had to go back and get our passports that we didn't know we needed and the rest of us headed up the five flights of stairs to the adoption court.  When we got up there, we found out that the judge had set an assistant in her place to take statements.  This meant we were not going to have to change our flight out tomorrow (good news), but there is also no way to pass court without a judge (bad news).  Michael made it back before we were called in to the court.  The three of us went into the "judge's chambers" along with Duni and a couple of men I had never seen.  The assistant asked us five questions that we answered yes.  One of the questions was "Do your other children know you are adopting?"  Michela waved at her and we all giggled a little.  The assistant said something to Duni in Amharic and we were done.  In the hall, Duni explained that we had a blurry seal that had to be redone and then the judge would sign our case.

That was it; we were done.  We went back to the guest house before lunch.  There was a little more to our morning that added to the emotions and stress, but we prayed about it all and it went as well as it possibly could.  We met up with other families for lunch.  It rained while we ate lunch.  The rain made it cool at first and then it got really hot and humid just in time to head to the TH.

When we arrived at the TH, we were told that Nazeret had been asking for her Mommy and Daddy.  What a heart warming thing to hear.  Our daughter couldn't wait to see us.  We played and laughed so hard together.  She found some baby rings hooked together and hid them.  She would then lift her hands and shrug her shoulders as if to say "where did they go".  We would move in her direction and she would pull them from their hiding spot and run away laughing.  She did this over and over until....Michela pulled them from their hiding place when Nazeret wasn't looking.  When Nazeret went to pull them out...they weren't there.  She was so funny!  She looked everywhere and was so confused until she saw Michela walking away with them swinging behind her back.  Nazeret busted out laughing!  This was one of the best moments on the trip.  We learned that she could play and tease and laugh about it all.  This is a very good thing.

We painted nails and jumped rope.  Suddenly the afternoon was over and it was time to leave.  We only had one day left with our beautiful girl.

Oh how I miss my girl.  Lord, please don't let it be much longer.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 3 of ONLY 5 days

5 days!  We spent 5 days with our daughter in Ethiopia!  5 amazing days....ONLY 5 days.

Our third day in Ethiopia started with a trip up Entoto Mountain (10,827 feet above sea level) with three other families.  I had NO idea what we were going to see, but I was game for anything outside of the city.  The drive up the mountain was beautiful.  I had wondered if I would need a sweater.  Would it be cooler due to the altitude or warmer due to the sun? It was cooler...in the shade.  To my surprise there were great treasures waiting at the top of the mountain.

We had a wonderful guided tour of the first Emperor's palace, which included a history lesson on the Emperor himself as well as Ethiopia.  Our guide was well spoken and loves his country.  He made us want to hear more.  He spoke of an Emperor who saw himself as one of the people.  We learned that Ethiopians have concidered raw ox a delicacy for hundreds of years (maybe more).  Our guide reminded us that Addis Ababa means "New Flower".  He explained that the city, when it was moved down the mountain for convience, was named after a rare flower that no longer exsists.  We saw sick people who come and live on the mountain because they believe the water can heal them.  Our guide told us that the healing is not immediate; it takes time, but that it can heal a person of AIDS.

We saw the first church in Ethiopia and the beautiful christian orthodox church that is built in three tears to represent the trinity.

Our guide walked us through a museum of Ethiopian history (mostly of the Emperor) where we saw a painting that represents Psalm 68:31  Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God. KJV
There were also many beautiful umbrellas which I knew related to the ones the women in town carry over their heads ALL the time, but I couldn't remember what the biblical connection was...so I asked.  The umbrellas are a covering of the NEW ark of the covenant...followers of Christ.
I thought these were both such beautiful images.

On our way down the mountain, we saw donkeys and women that climb up the mountain every morning and walk down the mountain every day loaded down with sticks and wood. These women earn about 20 birr a day.  That is the equivalent of about $1.

We stopped and bought each of the Kuykendall girls a traditional Ethiopian dress which we wore to church on Resurrection Sunday (Nazeret's will be here for her when she get's home.) and then we finally made our way to the TH to see our girl!

On this day, we took pictures and delivered care packages for other families.  It was great to hold some little ones, but it was hard on Nazeret.  She didn't understand what we were doing and she did not want to share her new family.  I can't say that a blame her, but it is also such a precious gift to other families and their children to take this time for them.  We had a great time with Nazeret.  She had this cute new little hair-do done with silly bands.  At the end of our afternoon, she got to take us over to the "big kid transition home" to see where she eats and sleeps.  When we had to leave....she stayed there.

It was a great day, but it ended with such an emotional THUD!  We had a scheduled traditional Ethiopian dinner complete with dancers that night, but none of us were excited about it.  We went, but we left our hearts at the TH that night and the next morning....was court.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 2 of ONLY 5 days

5 days!  We spent 5 days with our daughter in Ethiopia!  5 amazing days....ONLY 5 days.

In the morning we went to the TH.  When you arrive, the driver blows the horn to get the gate opened.  The vans FULL of parents pull in and unload.  The kids that were waiting on their families were on the playground.  She was so happy to see us.  She grabbed her Daddy by the hand before he even made it out of the van.

Our daughter is a very active child, but on this day....I got her to sit on my lap for just a little while.  For the first time, I planted little kisses on her cheek and her neck.  She giggled in delight!  She colored with her big sister and then without waring we were off and running again.

On this morning, some families were saying goodbye to their children and tree families were at court.  One of our daughter's little friends had been sent out to wait on her family, but they were at court so we added her to our play that day.  At recess, ALL the big kids come out from school and they ALL want a little of your attention.  They are all so precious.  I bet everyone of you reading this would consider adopting an older child if you spent one morning with these kids.

That morning when the parents loaded back into the van, our daughter hovered at the open sliding door until she realized we were sticking out hands out the window to her.  She took our hands....and I got my first kiss from her! (freely offered, not even asked for).  At that moment, my heart was SO FULL! (tears are streaming as I think about it)  I am so in love with this child!

We met up with the court families for lunch and then we visited two local orphanages.  These are well run and well maintained orphanages in the capital city.  The kids were so sweet as they sang and played games.  The girls and I, along with one of my friends and her two daughters, made 75 silk hair clip flowers to distribute to the girls in the orphanage.  They looked so pretty with them in their short hair, but the surprise was the joy they brought to the workers.  Some of the workers put them in their own hair, but most wanted them for their daughters at home.

We had our first coffee ceremony at the first orphanage we visited.  It is Ethiopian custom to roast coffee beans and make fresh coffee for your guests.  It is wonderfully strong coffee that leaves "mud" in the bottom of your tiny little cup.

At the second orphanage we visited, the older kids were in one large classroom for school.  We interrupted them with an art project.  It was organized chaos as we painted their hands and then cleaned them.  The result was beautiful!  I wish I could show you all of their smiling little faces.

Every one of these hand prints represents a child who is waiting for a forever family.  Just think about it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

ONE DAY......

Last Friday was our second court date and we received an email that basically said "not today, maybe tomorrow".  Today we received a phone call that said "not today, maybe tomorrow".

So I've been thinking a lot about passover, Jesus' last week, our redemption, our adoption and how ONE DAY HE WILL RETURN FOR US!

You see God has used this adoption journey to reveal so much about MY adoption.  I was broken when He payed the ultimate price, His life, to redeem me.  He never gives up on me!  God made me a joint heir with Jesus  (Seriously? ME? Joint heir with Jesus?) through adoption.

I love our daughter so much that I am willing to fight for her, if it comes to that.  I would NEVER give up on her.  How much more does he love me?  He died for me!

Jesus' last week in this life was hard, but He stayed focused.  He "finished well".  There are times that I just want to have a BIG ol' pity party.  Nobody deserved a pity party more that Jesus, but He didn't waste His time or energy with that.  He stayed focused on the Father and His plan.

On our first trip to Ethiopia, we spent our time showing our daughter how much we love her.  When we had to leave, she understood that we were going to prepare a place for her and we would be back to bring her home.  Sound familiar?  I worry that if too much time passes she will wonder if we ARE coming back for her.  Do I ever wonder if Jesus IS coming back for me?  Will He take me home to a place He has prepared for me?  I know He will.  I don't know when and there are days that I wish it was NOW, but I really don't question that He WILL return.  I don't think she does either.  She knows we will be back for her.  She would like it to be today, but she does know that we will return.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 1 of ONLY 5 days

5 days!  We spent 5 days with our daughter in Ethiopia!  5 amazing days....ONLY 5 days.

Our first day was ridiculous!  We spent almost thirteen hours on a plane, met two other families and our driver at the airport (after literally fighting away very persistent men who wanted to "help" us with our bags), and had an exciting ride with eight people and ALL of our luggage in and ON a little van.  When we arrived at the guest house there were so many people!  We were the last three of fourteen families in our travel group.  I'd connected with most of these families on Facebook, so they were introducing themselves and I was trying to make the mental connections.  We were told we had five minutes to check in the hotel and grab everything we needed for the day.  We were leaving to meet our daughter.  Okay....STOP! 

Go with me here:  We couldn't sleep on the plane (even with a sleep aid) because we were so excited!  We get to the hotel and there is so much activity and so many people.  We take our stuff to our room and we barely have enough time to use the facilities much less process anything that is happening.  You with me so far?

Eight families were leaving for court and the rest of us were headed for the transition home (where all of our children live).  The experienced families were great.  They explained what would happen, took our cameras, and assured us it was all going to be great.  Do I have to tell you that we were in shock?  We were in Ethiopia about to meet our daughter.  We were sleep deprived, confused, and hungry.  I'm pretty sure that even this part was God's plan.  The families explained that it would happen right away.  They would be bringing her out of the house as we were getting out of the van.  There is so much emotion that you can literally feel it in the air.  All of the families gather on the porch and they get your child and encourage her to go out to her new family (and a crowd of people with cameras).  She was just as overwhelmed as we were.

I can't show you the pictures of her when she came out, because we haven't passed court yet.  That is a story for another day.  We all smiled at each other, gave some timid hugs, and them moved out of the "spot-light" to get to know each other.  We played together all day; she called us Mommy and Daddy from the start.

Our little girl was so proud of HER Daddy!  She introduced him to everyone: adults and children.  She wanted him close to her.  This was also the day that she discovered he could lift her high over his head.  She was all smiles and her giggle was the sweetest sound to our ears.  We had a wonderful day!  She had her Daddy wrapped around her little finger on Day 1! 

Sunday, March 27, 2011


We are getting so close to our trip to Ethiopia to meet our daughter!  I am so excited that I'm not sleeping well at night; I can't get organized; and it is getting hard to think about anything else.  Some days I can't stop smiling and others...I can't stop crying.  I'm an emotional mess!  It is a lot like being pregnant.

Last night I heard the words I so desperately needed to hear from our mothers who will be taking care of Amelia while we are gone: "Don't worry.  We will take care of anything that comes up."  THIS also made me cry.   I don't know how to explain the concept of going half way around the world to be with one child while leaving another AND knowing that you have to leave the one to return to the other.  Lord help me.

Our stuff that we are packing/preparing to pack has spread from its corner out into several places in the house.  We have two 40lb Rubbermaid tubs of donations (thanks to another adoptive mom's collection), an additional 18lbs of wipes, a bag full of cloth diapers and homemade covers (thanks to another adoptive mom), two light weight but cumbersome Bumbo seats (thanks to my mom and dear friend), a bag full of toothbrushes and toothpaste (thanks to local dentists), four care packages to take over for other families (I am so excited to return this wonderful blessing), toys for the kids, clothes for the kids, stuff for our girl, two large canvases we plan to paint with the kids,  seventy-five silk flower hair clips (we made with friends), and a few items for us while we are there.

Please be in prayer that MOWYCA will have our letter at the court and we will have the great pleasure of hearing the judge say "She is yours....forever."  If this happens while we are there, I will then be able to share her beautiful picture and her beautiful name with all of you.  Thank you so much for joining us on this amazing journey.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Do you trust me?

Oh somebody please tell me that this "complete trust thing" is hard for you too.  Yes, I know my last post was about God asking me to completely trust Him and apparently we are still working on that.

There are some changes taking place in the Ethiopian adoption process that are likely to make it take longer to get our little girl home.  There is a meeting in Ethiopia Monday the 14th, which is our Sunday night, to discuss the process.  Please be in prayer that God's desire for His children would prevail.

So out of what seemed like a disaster when the change was first announced: God has achieved world attention for the Ethiopian orphan, brought families all over this country to their knees to pray together every night, and is still working to bring about change that will bring glory to Him.  Personally, I felt a call to fast my dinners this week and pray at night with an empty stomach.  God used this to remind me that this feeling of going to bed hungry is part of the problem in Ethiopia and my heart was broken for families that give up their children because they cannot feed them.

Sometimes God allows circumstances to come about that will draw us closer to Him, circumstances that teach us to trust Him in ALL things!  For the past couple of weeks I have been drawn to a song by Flyleaf.  This is a miracle in itself.  This band is alternative Christian.  The first time I heard them was live; I couldn't understand a word and I was not impressed by all the eyeliner that the male guitar player wore.  The song is called Again and the part I could listen to over and over is:

You don't have to understand;
You be still.
Wait and know I understand;
You be still.
Be still! 

It all comes back to trust.  Do I trust Him to take care of my daughter?  Are you kidding?  He is the only constant in her life.  The real question is why is He trusting me with His daughter?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Father Knows Best

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28

One week ago today there were nine court dates given out and we were NOT one of them. I was so very excited for all of those families, but there was that part of me that was just a little disappointed. You see I had been evaluating my family calendar and had decided that the week ALL those families were going to be in Ethiopia was the perfect week for us to be gone. God started working in me. Over the next few days He reminded me of all the ways that HIS timing in this journey had been PERFECT. That there were things I could not have known and that once I was able to look back, it was very easy to see how perfectly He had planned and "worked all these things together".

Yesterday I was sitting in my favorite hamburger joint waiting on my order and I found myself alone...with God. I had to make a choice. I was either going to continue wanting things my way or I was going to trust Him and I mean FULLY trust Him. If I truly trusted Him and believed that He was working all things together for my good, then how could I be anything other than grateful for His perfect timing. There was a peace that came over me. I would be happy with the court date of His choosing...whenever that might be.

One hour later, I was checking my emails when I heard my phone ringing in another room. I have to explain here that this was a miracle in itself. You see...our office, that I am only in on Tuesdays, is like a bunker. There is NO signal. Our cell phones NEVER ring. We can't send or receive texts. It is a DEAD zone! Confused by the sound of my phone ringing I ran to get it before it stopped. I was sure that as soon as I picked it up I would loose signal and the call would be dropped. When I heard my family coordinator from AWAA, I held my breath in anticipation but also to somehow help my phone keep signal. The conversation was short because she could not hear me, but I could hear every word she said. "I have a court date for your family." That was really all I needed to hear. And of course...this date fits the needs of my family even better than the one I was disappointed not to get.

God has been so good to me throughout this journey. He has been so patient and loving. There have been so many beautiful and clear signs along the way. He has loved me enough to work all things together for my good rather than giving me what I want. What an AWESOME heavenly father we have!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Adoption T-shirts are now available for pre-sale now through March 15!
Please go to the ADOPTION T-SHIRT page in the list on the left for further information.
Thank you for supporting orphans and their forever families.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hope has a family!

Right at this moment, my husband and a friend are cutting a hole in a wall in my house.  The bedroom that has been Amelia's is becoming hers and Hope's.  It is a great room for a couple of little girls, but it only has one small closet...for TWO GIRLS.  This will never do.  So as I "stay out of the way", they are turning wasted space into Hope's closet.  We are making room and preparing to bring our girl home. 

This week, somewhere around the holiday of love, Hope will find out about her forever family and receive pictures of us.  I wonder how it will go.  Will she love us at first site as we did her...will she think we are old?  As a way to begin the bonding process, we (adoptive parents) send care packages with other adoptive parents when they go to Ethiopia for court or embassy. 

Because packing space is VERY valuable, we can each send a one gallon bag full of goodies.  Can you believe I got a complete outfit (including a pair of jeans) in a one gallon bag?  I am excited to add that the person delivering our care package was also used by God to start the awakening in our souls that lead to an interrupted life.  I know she will love on our girl a little for us while we cannot.  Someday (hopefully very soon) we will be able to do the same for another family.  I love being a part of such an amazing group of people that have such a heart for the Lord and His children.

So...Hope has a family and I am busting at the seems with love and happiness, but what about all the other waiting children?  I can't stop thinking about the children in the transition home that Hope plays with, eats with, sleeps with, that don't have a forever family.  They haven't received a care package and they don't know that someone is coming for them.  What if you are their someone?  Just think about it.  I want to bring them all home with me...and I might...bring home one or two more.  We'll see.  Just imagine the difference you could make in the life of a child without a family.  My heart is breaking for them.  I pray that God will rise up families who will take that beautiful leap of faith.

While we wait for that call announcing our travel date (to become Hope's parents), we will prepare our home, our hearts and our lives for our girl.  Thank you Lord!

Friday, February 4, 2011


What a strange week it has been!  We have been "iced in" all week with 13 degree highs and 9 degree lows....in TEXAS!  It's been GREAT; not the cold, but the time at home with the family.  I should have used the time to clean my house.  Where is the fun in that?  I have so many books I've been waiting to read, so I indulged myself by the fire in a couple of those (both about Africa, of course).  The overwhelming theme all week has been...HOPE.

Do you love Jeremiah 29:11?  I do.  Michela (my 14 year old) does; she has it written on her vanity mirror.
Here it is from The Message:

I know what I'm doing.  I have it all planned out--plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

I love the peace this verse gives me in any circumstance.  I can trust God!  He knows what He is doing and it is good for me!

BUT....did God mean this verse for EVERYBODY?  It's not too hard for us to believe; we've all been through ups and downs.  We know God brings us through the highs and lows.  He's done it before.  But what if you are a seven year old girl who has just lost everything?  It is pretty hard to believe that God knows what He is doing.  You feel VERY abandoned.  All you have is HOPE.  You HOPE that God has a plan.  You HOPE that He will not forget you.  You HOPE that He sends somebody to love you.

God does have a plan and a HOPE for the future...US!  We, His hands and feet, ARE the plan!  We ARE the HOPE for the orphaned and abandoned child!  Micah 6:8 says:

But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.  It's quite simple:  Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don't take yourself too seriously--take God seriously.

God has shown us what He takes seriously:  the poor, the sick, the widow and the orphan.

If you say,"Hey, that's none of my business," will that get you off the hook?  Someone is watching you closely, you know--Someone not impressed with weak excuses.
Proverbs 24:12

We are so thankful that God would allow us to be a part of His plan.  Don't miss the blessings He has planned for you.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


A couple of posts back, I mentioned the "dry spell" and how it was starting to sprinkle.  Well... it seems the flood gates have opened and we have been swept up in it!!!  We have our referral for our LG and for now we are calling her HOPE.

Thursday morning I decided to listen to a new song by Matthew West, "One Less".  I had been avoiding this song thinking it would make me cry (I do plenty of that on my own), but it is a celebration song of a girl and her mom brought together through adoption.  That afternoon as I left work to pick up Amelia from school, my phone started to *ding* like a slot-machine.  I have my phone set to *ding* when I receive emails.  I began to laugh and cry and laugh more at my tears of joy.  You see... there is only activity like that on my phone when children are being matched to their forever families.  When I got to the school, I checked my email and sure enough there were two more referrals added to the two the day before (as well as ALL the congratulation emails), but there was another that made me hold my breath and feel my heart pounding in my chest...

There was an addition to the Waiting Child List; a beautiful little girl. Could this be our daughter? She was in our age range, but at the top end.  I called America World to see if they could give me more information, but they were closed due to SNOW.  It was 70 deg here HaHa!  I would have to wait until Friday.  I received an email Friday morning that my family coordinator was in a meeting most of the day, but she was sending our paperwork up the chain.  At 2:00 Friday afternoon I received the call.  WE WERE A MATCH!!!

God has been so good to have placed things in my heart about our LG that He knew I would need.  The things He impressed upon me about her during this process were right there in her chart.  HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!?!?  I have NO doubts, NO concerns, NO questions...THIS is our LG.  Oh ya, that brings me to HOPE.  This is not her name; it is the name AW used to place her on the WCL.  Her name is beautiful and I cannot wait to share it with you when we pass court.  We plan to use HOPE as her middle name.  It represents the HOPE both families had that this match would come.

So now...you guessed it...we wait, but this time we have the face and name of our beautiful daughter to stare at and pray for while we wait.  GLORY to GOD!!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Our paperwork was shipped on 1-14-11via FedEx and it arrived at it's destination...today! I just want to say "Way to go FedEx!"

Here is the journey it took:

Now we just wait for God to prepare the way for our Little Girl to be matched with us, her forever family!  What an amazing day that will be!

Just as a heads up,  we will be taking pre-orders for adoption t-shirts very soon.  I will post a picture of it next week.  Our family is very excited about this!  We were all involved in the design in order to accomplish our vision of a tee that supports ALL adoptions and ALL families.  Be sure to come back and check it out.

Monday, January 17, 2011

How do you celebrate a "paper pregnancy"?

We are "paper pregnant" (with a 4-6 year old girl)!  
Our dossier was mailed on Friday, January 14!  We are now tracking it as it makes its way to Ethiopia.  From this point we could get our referral call at ANY time.  It could be this week or months from now.  We (AWAA families) are praying for a flood of referrals in the near future.  Things were very dry/slow for a couple months (November and December), so it seems to be time for a flood and the trickle has started!  We could be part of this great flood!  We'll see...

So to celebrate our "paper pregnancy", we went out with friends (their family of 4 + our family of 4) to an Ethiopian restaurant called Queen Sheba.   As we walked through the door of this very nice restaurant we were greeted with new smells.  The spices used in the food are different from anything we had ever smelled before.  It made us all think about the new things LG will experience here.

We ordered the Queen's Dinner: the perfect way to try everything!  The meal started with ceremonial hand washing.  Good thing as you eat family style with your fingers!

The platter included chicken and lamb dishes, vegetables and beef in the center.  Our friend's son hit the nail on the head when he described the beef as taco meat!  It was ground beef with finely chopped jalapenos.  Yum! Everything is eaten with a bread called injera.  Injera is a thin, spongy, sourdough that come out rolled up like a tortilla (Can you tell I am a true Texas girl that loves her Mexican food?).  The food was WONDERFUL!  I just may have to take my own fork to Ethiopia.  The slightly soggy injera bread is just not my favorite way to get all that great tasting food into my mouth.

Did I mention the honey wine?  It is the most beautiful color; it tastes and smells like drinking honey.  What is not to like?  After dinner we had an assortment of desserts that included baklava and Ethiopian coffee.

It turns out that we like Ethiopian food, but it may take our stomachs a few times to get used to it.  All those new spices were a little hard to sleep on.  All in all it was a great experience that was so nice to share with friends (3 hours!).   I believe we also gained a deeper understanding of what LG will experience with all of the new foods when she gets here.

Thank you Lord for good food and good friends!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Merry Ethiopian Christmas to Us!!!

I've been checking the mail every day for a week: hoping, waiting, eagerly anticipating our I-171H.  Today....it came!  So here it is:

The return address is the Department of Homeland Security and the only place it says I-171H is down in the bottom right hand corner.  The rest of the form does, however, say that we are approved for one female child between 4 and 7 years old!!!!!!

We have already made copies and sent or dossier to America World.  They will receive it tomorrow, check it over and FedEx it to Ethiopia next Friday!  I told Michael that I felt like I was handing my child over to the people at FedEx.  It was more of a mix of emotion than I expected.  This has definitely been a labor of love.  I know God will never take His hands off of it as it makes it's way to Ethiopia and ultimately leads to the match of our Little Girl.

Right now, as I type this, it is almost 3:00 AM in Addis Ababa.  When our Little Girl wakes up it will be Christmas or Ganna.  Gift giving is a very small part of the celebration in Ethiopia, but tomorrow the children in the orphanages and transition homes related to AWAA will each receive a small gift from the families that are there now for court.  LG could be one of these children.

Tomorrow I will go to work and have a "normal" day, but my heart will celebrate the birth of Christ with my daughter!