Thursday, December 9, 2010
As I was listening to the movie and thinking about a conversation I had with another mother considering adoption, it all seemed to come together in my mind. She was asking lots of questions about culture and wanting to know how we incorporate our kids culture now that were home and in America. And to be totally honest I'm not sure that we do an excellent job of it, but I'm not sure that is what is really important. Do we talk about ET and Colombia and have visible signs of their countries around the house? Of course. But do they really grasp their culture? No, probably not. Do we try to instill in them a love and pride for their birth countries? Yes! But where they're from isn't as important as where they're going. God is using their past to shape them into the people he has called them to be for the good works he has prepared for them in advance to do. So maybe we should be more focused on teaching them to follow hard after God and not worry so much about culture. And if you really believe that God is calling you to adopt, be certain, be very certain in your own mind that no you won't get everything right and yes some well meaning "spike tail' might imply that your child would be better off in his or her own culture or race, but I disagree. God chose our children for us before the beginning of time and no one will ever convince me otherwise. Do I understand the pain and heartache it has caused for God to orchestrated their placement in our home? No I don't and my heart often breaks for my sons birth parents and their deep loss. "Let everyone bless God and sing his praises, for he holds our lives in his hands. And he holds our feet to the path. Psalms 66:8-9" Nothing is coincidence. So don't get caught up in thinking you don't look the same or act the same or you don't know anyone else from child's birth country. Adoption becomes it's own culture and there is a vast network of support out there. You might think your adding one new culture to your family but really it's two. Do it, let God have his way in your heart and be blessed, so very very blessed.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Sam is a persistent child, one day several weeks ago he got in trouble nagging me about watching his "show" Land Before Time, so much so, that I wouldn't let he watch it at all that day. He was traumatized for sure. Today he asked after breakfast if he could watch his show, I said, sure let me get your brothers on the school bus first. Well five minuets later I'm doing dishes, completely forgetting his "show", when he says, mom I'm not bugging you about my show, see I'm not bugging you at all. He's so funny.
Sam had a interesting kick this fall. He fell in love with the good Samaritan. I did a story at church and had the boys help me act out the story. Sam was "Pastor Sammy" or priest who didn't stop to help because he didn't want to get his church clothes dirty, Owen was "brother Owen" or the Levitt who couldn't stop because he didn't want to be late for church, and Abe was the kid from the wrong side of the tracks that stopped to help. After doing that story at church Sam was hooked. I had to retell the story at least 3 or 4 times a day. One day while cleaning Sam and Abe's room, Sam requested the story AGAIN, I final wised up and said here lets find it in your Bible and you can look at the pictures. That Bible became his constant companion for the next month. It was so sweet to see him sitting on the couch "reading" nearly word for word because he had heard it read so many times. The Lord's hand is upon him.
Here are a few photos of his party. We love you Sammy, it wouldn't be the same without you.
Nana got Sam this authentic chaps and vest. He wore the vest to church but we talked him out of the chaps.
This is his Sammy cake, yes it's a cake designed around the birthday boy when he is dressed like singer man. He loved it!
Daddy and Isaac on Thanksgiving.
Monday, October 25, 2010
So we began our journey to remodel the kitchen and Paul asked his cousin Margie to come take a look and give us her expert opinion, she is a wonderful space planner. Well Margie took one look at the house and began adding on the moment she drove up. Here is what she saw.
She said, oh what they need is a laundry room/mud room and a two car garage with bedrooms above the garage, they need a new roof anyway might as well do it all at the same time and have it all match up. Well we were planning on a new roof as well, but that was it. Ben and I were a bit overwhelmed. After they left we had a good start on a plan for the kitchen, but we were both rolling our eyes at the thought of such a major addition. But the more we thought about it the more it started to make sense. We knew we weren't done adopting so maybe few more bedrooms a couple more bathrooms and a laundry room on the main level started to make sense. But we still weren't convinced until I saw this vs. 3 times in one morning and it really sealed it in my mind when I read it in the Living Bible.
Isaiah 54: 2-3 "Enlarge your house; build on an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense! For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations."
It never ceases to amaze me when a vs. from the Bible speaks so clearly to me, for surly the word of the Lord is alive and active. Anyway here we are almost two years later Isaac came home right as we finished the kitchen and a month later we started the addition. Here it is..
this is the front
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
So were visiting and she asks me if all the boys are adopted?
I say no Owen is biological and Abe, Sam, and Isaac are adopted.
Then she asks if another brown skinned boy from their team, was my son too?
I say no he's just a friend.
Then she asks are they brothers?
I say yes they are brothers.
She says no I mean do they have the same mom and dad?
I say yes me. I'm their mom.
She persists, no I mean their real mom?
I say, Yes they all have different birth parents, but they are indeed brothers. By this point I'm getting a little frustrated that she doesn't seem to get it yet, I know she isn't being purposefully hurtful. How grateful I am that Owen, Abe, and Sam didn't hear this conversation. She wasn't done yet.
She went on to ask me if their parents just don't want them? Ouch!!
I said, it's not that they don't want them!!!!! It's more that they can't raise them, for lots of different reasons but mostly because their to poor to care for their needs.
I thought about this conversation a lot last night and of course the perfect answer comes to me late at night laying in bed. Next time I'll say, their parents love them very much, so much so, they spent thousands of dollars to bring them home, they traveled thousands of miles and crossed an ocean just to pick them up, and we would do all again a thousand times over just to have them home. God may have used one couple to give them life but the Lord knew what they needed and where he wanted them to grow up and he knew just the right family to place them with. No matter how they came to be where they are now I know for certain that before the beginning of time God created me to be their mama and he ordained them to by my babies.
I know this conversation had a purpose, I know I'll be better prepared the next time the questions come and hopefully if my boys are present they'll be reassured and not hurt by the questions.
What do you all think? I'd love to hear your comments and advise?
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I think of Sam and his routine, although rather traumatic removal of his tonsils. What would have happened to him had he still been in Ethiopia? Would he have died for want of a routine procedure that happens here everyday? You see Sam's tonsils were so big they were waking him up at night, because when he fully relaxed his gigantic tonsils would cut off his air supply and he would wake up to breath. Life threatening here? NO WAY, but what if he was living on the street in Addis Ababa fending for himself, hungry, malnourished, and alone? For many children this is real life.
What will we do about it? To whom much is given, much is required! Have we given all that the Lord has required of us or are we giving a little in order to easy the guilt. Are we stuck, unsure of what to do, overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of poverty and those affected? Has the Lord laid adoption on your heart, or maybe sponsorship, or maybe he calling you to pray? Have you shrugged it off, fear and worry taking the place of God's call. What if we'd been to scared? Where would my boys be? Would they live on the streets begging for food, or maybe sifting through the garbage dump looking for something to sell or eat in order to survive. A life is at sake. If the Lord is leading you don't wait the consequences could be dire for someone else.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Isaac enjoyed an oatmeal cookie, and his brothers helped him blow out his candle.
This is what happens when Isaac has a fruit bar for breakfast. It gets everywhere and this boy really likes to smear things in his hair and after the fruit bar we have to resort to a wash down in the sink. Needless to say we only have fruit bars when we also have time for a rinse. Isaac enjoys all of it immensely.
Is he cute or what?
This child loves to laugh and has a about a half dozen different laughs which always seem to fit the occasion. And it just so happens his name means laughter. Needless to say were all madly in love with this little guy and believe it or not were already starting to think dream and pray about our next baby! How does God do that! I never dreamed I'd be a mother of four boys, let alone 4 boys from three different continents and now I'm already dreaming of another brown eyed, brown skinned beauty. My heart already aches to wrap my arms around my baby. Have a blessed day! More pictures to come of the up coming party.
On a side note we went to the fair yesterday and some friends of our allowed the boys to get in with there ram so the boys could pet it. Well it was time to go the ram had, had enough so Sam reached out to pet it one more time and then he licked it right in the middle of it's back and then grinned ear to ear. Oh Sam we never know what your going to do next and yet I wasn't surprised, it was soooo funny!!!
Friday, July 2, 2010
Daddy and the boys, none of them like to have there picture taken, including Daddy, can't you tell!
This is Owen preparing for his baptisism, later that night I asked him about it and was telling him how proud we were of him and his decision to follow Christ and this is what he said, "Water feel good on outside and heart feel good on inside." We are so proud of him and praying he will always jump in where God leads.
Here is the boy who started it all. I can't believe it's been five years already. We love you buddy and we're so glad God chose us to be your family.
Here is our mover and shaker. He's been cruising around on all fours for a month now and he's getting good with a walker. Time flys, soon we'll be having a birthday party!
This is singer man (aka Sam) he often comes out for special occasions and church. We still haven't figured it out yet, we'll let you know when we do!
We've been so blessed by all of our children and can't imagine our family without them and we eagerly await the next child God has for our family.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Sam: "Mom am I black?"
Me: He is looking at his arm and I can tell he means literally what color am I. So I respond, "Well your kind of brownish?"
Sam: "Is Isaac black?"
Me: "He's brown too, just darker than you." I'm thinking wow this is a good opportunity to discuss our differences, and how God loves us all and were a wonderful mix of all the colors he has created, when Sam follows up with this...
Sam: Will I ever be green?
Me: "No Sam."
Sam: "Why not? I want to be green!"
He walks away and I just shake my head and laugh. He doesn't care that we're different colors he just wants to be his favorite color John Deere green. Don't you love children, so unhindered by the things that bind adults.
Here they are beautifully unhindered...
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Isaac has gone from quiet, cute, and cuddley to curious, nosiey, and semi mobile. Yes, Sam likes to dress up, in these pictures you can see saddle up your horses man and singer man (the one with the police hat is singer man, not sure what that's about yet).
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
I took a quick afternoon outing with one of our in-country guides to buy a pair of soccer shoes for one of the boys involved in our guide's ministry for street children. It was fun to see the excitement when he got to pick out the pair he wanted. He only owned a pair of crocs and lives on the street, but because of the financial support and guidance he gets from our guide he is enrolled in school and supports himself by selling gum to tourists.
Isaac is still grumpy today, I think mostly because he is exhausted from crying about all last night. Hopefully he will crash for the long trip home.
Leigha and I really want to thank everyone who has followed along on our little blog and sent us notes of encouragement--it really makes a big difference when we're so far from home. I hope to see lots of you at the airport, but if not there we'll see you at home!
We spent the morning at a coffee factory getting a tour and then sampleing the coffee in the shop. Ben really enjoyed the seeing the process.
We start the journey home tonight. Please pray for us as we travel. It's been a good trip, but we ready to be home.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Hello all! This has been one of the most challenging days of our lives. As we loaded up to visit Kid's Care Orphanage (where Sammy lived for 7 months) we were told that we would be meeting Isaac's birth mother this afternoon. We traveled to ET a few days early in hopes of meeting her, but now that it was really going to happen. Neither Leigha nor I was 100% sure we wanted to. But first thing's first...
Our trip to the orphanage this morning was awesome! It hadn't changed much in the last 2 years. It was still home to way to many children and the most amazing women who love them more than I can describe. Even in the frenzied excitement of our visit, there was a feeling of peace and serentiy that was palpable. The kids were so happy to get some candy and other treats from some of the families, and to have their pictures taken (and them to look at themselves on the screens of digital cameras). I pulled out the camcorder and one of the older boys broke into a sweet dance routine! The attention I paid to him prompted other kids to come show me their moves. I wish Abe could have been here to show them how it's done! The best part of the orphanage visit, though, was seeing a 7 year old girl in our group reunited with her friends and nannies in the orphanage. All of the kids in the orphanage were so obviously and genuinely happy that she had finally reached her family. It was also great to see some of Sam's nannies that we met 2 years ago. They all still remembered "Mickey, Mickey, Mickey," and we gave them some photos of Sam that we brought along.
From the orphanage we went to lunch and then back to the Guest House to meet Isaac's birth mother. We went up to our room and watched out the window for her arrival. When she came Leigha went down & I stayed behind in the room with Isaac. We wanted to make sure that she wanted to see him (which of course she did) before we brought him down. I won't share much of her story here, because her story belongs to her and to Isaac. Communication with her was very difficult because she barely speaks Amharic (the prodominant language in ET) and we were speaking through a translator who speaks English and Amharic. Leigha and I both felt so stupid because, under the crushing weight of the emotion of the encounter, we couldn't think of to say or ask. She was very shy and had difficulty looking us in the eye. She held Isaac for most of the encounter, but then after a little while she told us she was ready to hand him to us. She was obviously extremely sad, but when we asked her how she felt at this moment she said "happy."
Unless you have been in such a meeting, you cannot imagine the unspeakable bravery and strength it takes for a woman to make the decision she made. For a long time I have had a heart for orphans, but honestly it's pretty easy to "feel" for them. Today I learned the hard lesson that behind most of these orphans there is a birth mother who had to make a decision a thousand times harder than any decision that any of us will ever face. Sometimes people comment on what a wonderful thing it is that we adopt, or how noble the financial and emotional sacrifices that we make in the process. I have always said that for us adoption is a strictly selfish act because the joy and blessing that we get from our kids so far greatly outweighs the minor inconveniences we experience in the process that the notion of us doing something noble "for those poor kids" is laughable. Today I learned that the hard and noble part of adoption comes long before we even enter the picture. It is simply tragic that conditions in the world are such that the best (or only) option for millions of women is to give their precious babies to an under-resourced institutional orphanage in hopes that their childrent might simply stay alive, and if their broken hearts can still manage to dream, that their children might someday live happy lives in happy homes. It is difficult to imagine that many women are even capable of such dreams given the utter sadness and struggle of their own existences. As the meeting with the birth mother drew to a close she told us that she was happy that Isaac would have a good home and asked if it was OK to hug us. A friend of ours took a few pictures of Leigha, Isaac and me with the birth mother, and then she walked through the gate and we will never see her (and she will never see Isacc) again.
On a happier note, we are now headed to Gelgela (the orphanage where Isaac lived for a couple of months). We have never been to this one, so I'm REALLY excited to go check it out and to tell the nannies thanks for the amazing care they have given Isaac and all of the other kids who come there.
We are all ready to come home, and are excited to start that journey tomorrow evening. You all are going to love Isaac, and we can't wait to see Owen, Abe & Sam and introduce their new baby brother!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
So far he has been very happy and easy going--let's hope it continues. He's had a bottle, a bath, and some cereal. Soon we'll be off to bed. He is still a little congested and coughing some, but he seems to feel good.
Barbara sent me an email of the boys reaction to seeing the pics sent yesterday, here it is:
Sam was first. When he saw Leigha, his face lit up like a Christmas tree and he said my Mommy. He liked the ones of Isaac taking a bottle and then sleeping. He says he wants to hold the new baby and make him laugh.
Owen came through the room next and sounded very adult when he simply cooed "Aaww" at each picture of Isaac. He noticed that it must be warm by how you were dressed.
Abe was next. He climbed on my lap and studied each picture carefully as he grinned from ear to ear. He wanted me
to keep scrolling down so he could see more. At the end he said "My eyes are wet."
Love you all, can't wait to bring him home!
Last night we went to a traditional ET dinner with music and dance. Ben loves all things Ethiopian--ate alot of injera (ET bread). Last night Ben said, I should have been born in ET, I love the food, slobbering on babies, and running. Ethiopians are very affectionate. The nannies from last time greeted Ben and I with a kiss on each cheek. The men often hold hands walking down the street and it means nothing other than they are friends. This cultural difference is great for the children at the transitional home. The children are very well loved. Being a nanny here is a difficult job, because they truly love the children for on average of three months and then they let them go and do it all over again each time and new child comes from the oraphanage.
Owen, Abe, and Sam your going to like your new little brother. He likes to wrestle gently. Can't wait to see everyone.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Guest blogger note - I cannot resist the temptation to gush over this family and this child. Have you ever??? He's perfect! Ben and Leigh, you amaze me.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
We will keep you posted, please continue to pray for us and our meeting and bonding with Isaac!
We have been more or less stuck in the guest house as we are waiting for a new time to meet our birthmother. I had really hoped to find time for a trip to the countryside, but that looks fairly doubtful now as we will get a lot busier tomorrow when we will be meeting Isaac for the first time. It was such a long wait, but now that it's here it still seems so surreal that the big day is actually almost here.
We went to church this morning at a place called Internation Evangelical Church. It is where most of our adoptoin agency staff goes, so it seemed like the natural choice. We felt right at home and had a great time there. The music & sermon were both great and was very similar in style and format to our own church. The pastor was a North Carolina native, which was a surprise to us. There was a great mix of people there--about 60% Ethiopian and the rest were from all over the world. It was a great experience and I highly recommend it to any other travelling families.
The weather is cooler than it was two years ago and brief showers have blown up each afternoon, which is rare this time of year. The electricity flickered a few times during yesterday's showers, which would not surprise anyone who has looked at the electrical grid (frought with pirated electric lines going to nearly every shack along the roads and alleys). We have about 4 TV channels in the room, and there is usually something in English on 2 or 3 of them. Some of the stations switch from network to network (say from Al Jazeera to BBC or from a Suadi Arabian channel to Nickelodeon) throughout the day, so there is always hope for finding something familiar. I have been seeing commercials for 'Got Talent' for a couple of days now, so I'm hoping it's the American version so I can get my fix of the Hoff. Did I mention that we were getting stir crazy? I think it is starting to rear it's ugly head in my ramblings here, so I better quit for now...
Saturday, February 13, 2010
We are having a little bit of trouble posting on our blog and friend and from our former travel group will be posting for us. Thanks Merica!
Leigh also says:
Hey all, since we're having trouble accessing our blog you will have to use our email to communicate with us. We have a friend posting for us via email but we are unable to read your posts. So if you would like to talk to us email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So it's with mixed emotions that we face this day, uncertain what it will bring, but either way it will bring an unimaginable loss to Isaac's mother. We are honored to have him as part of our family and we feel great honor to be called his mom and dad.
Happy Birthday Abraham, we love you and miss, have a good birthday buddy!
Friday, February 12, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
We just got an email from our agency. Isaac has pneumonia. They are treating him with antibiotics and we pray he is better soon. Owen our oldest is also sick with the stomach flu. Our flight got changed this morning due to the bad weather in DC. We are also having a hard time confirming our in-country plans because our agency is also in the DC area and has been closed for the last two days. Long story short the war wages on and we would appreciate your prayers. We know God is faithful and just and he has called us to this task and he will equip us for the task at hand. But as we forge ahead it would be a blessing to know others are petitioning the Lord on our behalf.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Not one set but two, one in black and one in white. Could it get any better you ask? Yes it can! I got them for the low, low price of $12. Now I tell you all this not because it makes a great story even though it does, but I tell you this because I am continual amazed at the working of the Father's hand in every step of our adoption. He knew what those children needed and he provided and I am blessed to be a part of his plan. If you haven't jumped fully into all the God has planned for you, don't wait, I'm sure he has a set of family dolls waiting for you somewhere along the way.
Our travel date is fast approaching. We leave Feb. 10 and return Feb. 20. We plan to post every day while in Ethiopia so tune in to read more about our beautiful new son Isaac and our journey to bring him home and pray for Grandma, Nana, and the two Paps as they wrestle the troops at home! We are so blessed to have a family that embraces adoption and helps us along the way.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
This is a photo of Sam shortly after he came home. Today is his 2ND Gotcha Day. For those of you who don't know what gotcha day is, let me explain. Today is the day we took Sammy as our own. It's a surreal experience to take a child with you, one you barley know and yet love deeply into your arms and carry him home. That's exactly what Jesus does for us. We call and he comes and carries us home whether we know him or not, he loves us deeply.
This Sammy on his third birthday(Dec. 3). Now that we know him we love him even more. He is a bundle of energy, chaos, and love. Things are never boring with Sam around and we wouldn't have it any other way. Happy Gotcha Day Sam! We love you.