Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cut down on your laundry in a "crafty" way...

My super-crafty friend Danielle gave me this idea for the kids bathroom. She hung hooks for her kids towels and painted them canvas' as well. I decided to try a "water theme" for mine. I found ideas I liked on the internet and tried my best to "copycat" since I don't have any natural art talent. I love the way they turned out though! The black sharpie at the end really helps correct any mistakes! Now the kids have no excuse for not using their bath towels more than once! Every little bit helps--right? :)

Family Motto 2010

A few years ago Rusty announced that our "Family Motto" was going to be "Reduce Clutter". I thought he was just joking around, but quickly found out he really meant it. We try to move every two years, so it makes sense not to keep a bunch of stuff around the house that we aren't using. So he and I made our rounds around the house a little bit at a time and "reduced clutter". We even got the girls in on the job and Morgan was relentless in her room! She was so proud of her pile of giveaways! It sure made this last move much easier!

Last year our family motto was "Be a Blessing" based on the John Waller song "Blessing for Life". This song talks about every day being a choice to be a blessing or a curse to those we come into contact with. We decided our family was going to choose to be a blessing as much as possible. So when we would drop the kids off in their Sunday School classes instead of saying the traditional parental phrase "be good!", we would whisper "be a blessing!" and they knew just what we were talking about because of "our song". We like anything that builds a team atmosphere in the home.

So, here we are in 2010, and we hadn't even thought of what God might have in store for us this year in the way of mottos...really it isn't ever anything we consciously think about, it just sort of "comes up" as we go along. After a great Sunday morning service as we discussed what we had learned, Rusty says "I want us to be a family of ACTION!" and we both knew--that's our theme for 2010. To be a family of ACTION! This fits perfectly with Evan coming home. We will ACTIVELY GO to Ethiopia and physically rescue him from his loneliness and bring him home forever. We want to DO the gospel rather than just read about it or talk about it! How about you? Are you a talker or a walker?

James 2:14-19

Faith and Deeds
14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Evan's Care Package

Our agency asked us to prepare a photo album for Evan and also one for his birth mother along with a letter to her. These will most likely be the only photos she has of him. This letter was the hardest letter I have ever had to write. What do you say to a woman who has given you her only son? The girls signed the letter too. Carley was so cute. I would say each letter of her name and she would make a straight line for each!

I had to edit these photos since we are not allowed to publicly post photos of him or tell his Ethiopian name. I am not very talented (or patient) with the photo editing yet, so this will just have to do for now.

Rusty didn't like the word "Sassy" (the brand name) on his boy's album so I blacked it out with a sharpie! :) He is so afraid that the girls and I will "sissy-fy" his boy!

Hi Evan...We're your family!

This is Evan's photo album we sent to put in his crib to introduce him to his forever family:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

#1 and #2...Destined to meet!

If you've been reading the blog you know that just before Christmas (when we were #1 on the AGCI infant boy wait list) I found the mom who was #2 on the infant boy wait list and she lived just up the road from me right here in my city in Kentucky! So close that we shop at the same Kroger!

Soon after we "found" each other, Angie (I affectionately call her #2), was talking to her extended family about our unique situation when her sister in law ran upstairs to get something. When she came back down she was holding a scrap of paper that said "Rusty and Cristie C." on it. She said "is this them?" Angie confirms and she explains that her dental hygienist had given her our names back in October. She was getting her teeth cleaned and mentioned that her brother and his wife (Matt and Angie #2) were adopting from Ethiopia. The hygienist, who happened to be my good friend Susan, said "oh I have a friend who is adopting from Ethiopia too!" and wrote down our names and phone number for her to pass along. Well the paper was forgotten about until she heard the story and the name rang a bell.

So come to find out that the Lord has been trying to put us together for a while now! Who would have thought that two families living in KY would both be using an agency in Oregon to adopt infant sons from the same country AND be back to back on the waiting list??? And we found each other just in the nick of time before we both lost our minds!

Thank you Lord for my new BFF Angie! What a gift she has been to me!

Friday, January 22, 2010

January 22, 2010 We receive our travel pack!

The UPS man comes again! What could be more exciting in the midst of an adoption?? He left this chubby envelope. I was surprised to find this darling frog and birth announcement inside from our Case Worker! It made me cry to read inside:
His name is D
He arrived in our hearts on 1/5/10
Weight 4.46 kg
Length 55 cm
Proud Parents Rusty and Cristie C.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Evan Goes to Soccer!

Morgan was telling Mr. Keith today about her new soccer season and how her first game was on Daddy's birthday, April 10th. I suddenly realized---Evan will be at her first soccer game (most likely)!!! This makes it seem so real and so near! It's funny how we've gotten so caught up in "adoption" and the trip to Ethiopia that it is hard to imagine "real life" after the trip!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Breaking News Story--We have a court date!

We were expecting a call from Julie (our caseworker) today to discuss the next steps after accepting our referral. However, when she called she said she had good news...we have a court appointment! That was great news, but there was more to come...the date is February 4! This is much sooner than we had imagined! We were hoping and praying for a court date in February and to travel in March but in the back of my mind I didn't really believe it would happen. I think we have gotten in such a "wait" mode that I just assumed it would be a few more weeks before we heard and then several more before the actual court date. So WOW!!

Julie said the good news is that we have a court date in 2 short weeks, the not-so-good news is that it may be tricky to get the letter of recommendation from the Ministry of Womens Affairs (MOWA) to the court in time. So would you join us in prayer for these issues:
  1. MOWA submit letter of recommendation by 2/4/10.
  2. Transportation for the birth mother who must be present at the court. (8 hour trip)
  3. Proper identification for the birth mother.
  4. Peace in her decision.
  5. Blessings and protection for her.
  6. Favor with the judge for our Case Processor who will represent us in court.
This was the most fun and informative phone call yet! We discussed all that must happen for our court date to be a success. The agency prepares families for more than one court date because about 1/2 the time either the MOWA letter doesn't come or the Birth Mother is unable to make it. We will pray that we will be in the other 1/2 of families who do pass on the first try!

We learned that it is highly unlikely that we will have the opportunity to meet Evan's birth mother since she lives in the Southern region which is an 8 hour car trip. The agency has never had a mother from the South attend a Gotcha Day. I was disappointed to hear this but hopefully we will get a photo of her from court.

Typically it takes 4-6 weeks after passing court for a family to travel. The key is we must be there for an appointment at the US Embassy. There are two US Embassy appointments for March, the 8th and the 22nd. If we are successful in court on the 4th it is possible we could travel on March 6th to get him! This is unbelievable!!

Our next task is to put together 2 photo albums, one for Evan's birth mom and one for Evan--one of the squishy ones he can chew on and keep in his crib! We also need to write a letter to his birth mom. I am hoping God will give me the words for that makes me cry just to think of it.

Here is the upcoming timetable:
  • Pass court
  • One week later receive tentative travel dates
  • One week later confirm travel dates
  • Two weeks later travel!
It was SO fun to discuss travel! Here's what it looks like:
  • Arrive in Addis Ababa on a Saturday night
  • Sunday morning: attend an orientation
  • Sunday afternoon: go to Hannah's Hope and meet Evan!
  • Sunday: bring him "home" to the hotel to show him some KY love!
  • Monday: Embassy appointment
  • Tuesday: ?
  • Wednesday: Cultural dinner with all the families and receive his visa
  • Thursday: Come home!
We should be receiving a travel package in the mail soon with more details!

I found out there are 6 other families in the same "phase" as us, waiting on court appointments, so I guess these will be our travel buddies. I'd love to hear from you if your reading this!! We will participate in a travel conference call on the 27th and I can't wait!

One more bit of fun news is that our case worker will be in Ethiopia on February 6 and we gave her specific instructions on hugs and kisses for our little man!

This is really an awesome day! I am hopeful to have my baby home for my birthday on March 30! Thank you Lord!

Isaiah 41:9-10 (New International Version)

9 I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, 'You are my servant';
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why Adoption?

One of the big questions we are being asked these days is why we have chosen to adopt. Since we have 3 biological or “homegrown” daughters peoples reaction when they find out we are adopting is a little confused. In today’s culture I think they are confused about a few things:
1. Why do we want more than 3 children?
2. If we do, why don’t we just HAVE another child?
3. Why Ethiopia as opposed to domestic?

So when they ask “what made you decide to adopt?” it is really a loaded question with a lot of underlying possibilities. This is not a five minute answer and it is hard to know exactly how much they want to know. Let’s see if I can explain how God brought us to this place.

Some people say they have know all their lives that they wanted to adopt. That wasn’t me. I wanted to have 2 babies. The reason I wanted to have 2 babies is because that seemed “normal” to me and I just wanted to be normal until 11 years ago when the Lord burst onto the scene of my ordinary life!

See, I knew God the way I knew Elvis. I had heard of him, heard about him, seen photographs/artwork of him, heard of some of his music, even read a little bit about him. But I had never MET him or had a real conversation with him. I believed Elvis existed even though I had never seen him but he wasn’t having any effect on my life. Same with the Lord.
I didn’t know the Lord until I began reading His word--straight from the source and He began to turn my world upside down. He changed the way I thought about everything including my marriage and my future family. He continues to do this as we speak. And this is where this story starts.

When we brought our first daughter home from the hospital, I thought having a baby was hard. Not the pregnancy and delivery--I loved that!--but HAVING our first baby at home was a BIG transition. I was working and I know that contributed to my view of the challenge, but the change that occurs when you go from a couple to a family is profound in my opinion. I had to stop being selfish and self-centered and put someone else’s needs first.
So when my second daughter came along I thought the transition was much easier. Plus, by this time, God was doing great things in our lives. I had quit my job, we had downsized our home, and I was beginning to understand God’s purposes for me as a HOMEMAKER. I wanted another child and it surprised me. But I did.

In 2006 our third daughter was born and really and truly I told my girlfriends, “I think I’m finally getting my groove on with this motherhood thing!” For whatever reason, three felt like things were really starting to get good! So again, I was surprised--but I immediately wanted more! My motto became “the more the merrier!” Morgan and Paige knew what to do and were getting more and more self-sufficient and helpful. I had the time to train them and work with them now that I was home and we were a great team! Now I see Carley following right in their footsteps as she prepares to become a big sister too!

God showed me scriptures like:
Psalm 127:3
3Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
And I began to think “why would I turn down a blessing from God?” And we were (and are) experiencing them as a blessing as we seek His guidance in parenting them. But in my mind, the only option for us was to BIRTH another child.

So one day in August of 2008 we walked in to church oblivious to the fact that God would open up our eyes to another option and start us on our journey to adopt on that very day.

God isn’t in a box, He works in creative ways, ways you and I don’t “naturally” think of or consider.
Isaiah 55:8-9
8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We saw in the bulletin these facts:
There are around 100 million orphans in the world today.
And 2.1 billion professing Christians,
Would Jesus have us ignore their cries?
Why are we not RESCUING these children?
And that word “RESCUE” was so powerful to me and rang over and over in my mind. NEVER had I thought of it as a RESCUE mission, NEVER had I pondered adoption as a Christian responsibility, NEVER had I seen those numbers and thought about how reasonable it was to literally WIPE OUT the orphan crisis just by Jesus followers obeying His command in
James 1:27
27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

God appointed adoption as a means of rescuing orphans. He used it to rescue me and bring me into His family forever and ever. Because He adopted me and did not leave me as an orphan I have a hope, a future and an inheritance in Heaven! If you are a follower of Christ it is because God chose to adopt you! And He has been clear to me
Matthew 10:8b
8b Freely you have received, freely give.

And so this was the beginning. Rusty and I talked after the service and asked “what is God asking us to do?” We agreed to pray about it more.
Was this the way God wanted to grow our family?

When God wants to speak to me about something He comes at me from every angle and this was no exception. We began to see ADOPTION everywhere we looked.

We got an email from a ministry offering a book about adoption, so we ordered it and began to learn more and gain an understanding of the differences between domestic vs. international adoption.

Our pastor asked us to attend a conference called Together 4 Adoption and he had no idea we were considering adoption.

We attended a discussion group on adoption featuring 2 families who had adopted more than one child internationally and they spoke in depth of their experiences. At the close of the lecture the one father looked into the audience and encouraged us “Just do it. It isn’t as difficult or as expensive as people say. Just do it.”

With each of these experiences we were more and more convinced that this was the leading of the Lord for us. Now, rather than asking “should we do this?” we began to ask “why wouldn’t we do this?” Our daughter said it well, “we have a house, we have clothes, we have extra food, we should do it!”

And so we began to request free information from adoption agencies. We watched each agencies promotional DVD and cried with each one as we saw the faces of so many children without mothers and fathers. Then one day in December of 2008 Rusty came home and announced “enough research, enough discussion, tonight we are going to choose an agency and fill out an application!” And so we did. We sat down with all the info and made a list of a few things that were important to us, compared our list with each agency and made a decision. This was also the night we officially chose Ethiopia. Rus had been leaning toward Ethiopia the whole time mainly because this was the country with the greatest need. But it also met some of our other practical needs as well (length of stay in country, a finalized adoption prior to travel…etc.). We filled out an online application that night. And so the journey began.

One of the other special things God did during this time was to connect me with a friend who does Bible Study with me on Wednesday mornings. Someone put us together because we were both home school moms and she told me her family was adopting from Ethiopia. At that time, this was not even on our radar, so my thought was “how neat for them!” Well the next year when we returned for a new year of Bible Study and I saw Karen; God reminded me of that conversation and I immediately ran to her to share that we TOO were going to adopt from Ethiopia! This was the year we were studying the life of Moses. During that first lecture our teaching leader talked about how Moses was “adopted” into the pharaohs family and that it was all part of God’s plan for his life. This family would offer him education and experiences that he would need for the purposes God had for his future. I had never thought of Moses as “adopted” before? I am constantly amazed at how God can and does speak directly to me through His word even when it would seem impossible! And how God is working ahead of time, preparing the way for us. He knew we were going to adopt long before we did and he purposed Karen and I’s friendship in full knowledge of what was to come.

And that’s not all! (infomercial voice) I later discovered that God had sovereignly placed me in a discussion group with 4 other adoptive moms! Two had adopted domestic, one had adopted international, and one had done a snowflake adoption! Unbelievable!

What a mighty God we serve!

But before God could lead our family into adoption He had to change our hearts about family in general. Leading me to quit my job in pharmaceutical sales, sell our dream home and scale down, and lead my husband on a path to start his own business! This was no small thing! It was a lot of change! Our ways of thinking and attitudes had to change. I had to learn to find value and purpose in my home, in being a wife and mother rather than bringing home a paycheck, dressing up, and having intelligent conversations with doctors. (At least their end was intelligent J)

But this is one of the greatest things about walking with God. He never twists our arm or drags us kicking and screaming to places we don’t want to go. Did you know that? If you are just beginning to walk with God or maybe even investigating Christianity for the first time I think it is natural to wonder “will God make me ____” (fill in the blank)? I remember thinking that if I gave me life to the Lord He might make me go to Africa and be a missionary and that didn’t sound good at all to me at that time. That was only one of my many fears of what He might require of me. Now that I have walked with him for 11 years I am pleased to report that He doesn’t work like that at all. He doesn’t force us to obey Him any more after our new birth than He did before. What I mean is, God doesn’t FORCE people to be saved. If He did, everyone would be a born-again Christian because the Bible says clearly “He doesn’t want any to perish”. We have free choice. So God is always good to change our hearts and minds, to bring us into agreement with Him, into His way of thinking about a matter until we WANT to do it as much as He wants us to do it!

I have said before how I thought home schooling was crazy when I first heard about it! But this was what God wanted for our family so He was patient and continued to teach me more about it, introduce me to HS families I could relate to, and show me the benefits. Then I came to a point where I said “ok, I’ll do it for YOU and for the kids”. But God doesn’t want His children moping around in obedience like a child told to clean their room “OOOOKKKKKK”. No! He wants us rejoicing in obedience!! Now, I can honestly say that I praise God each and every day for the PRIVELEGE to home school my children! He took what I thought was nuts and moved me to a place where it is one of my greatest gifts!

What an awesome God we serve!

This is how He handled adoption for us too. Though I have to say, I am much less resistant now that I have seen and experienced what obedience is like. It didn’t take nearly as long to change our hearts for adoption as it did to home school.

But we all have fears about the unknown. Whatever it is that God is leading you into today, don’t hesitate to pour out all of your questions, fears, and misgivings to Him. He is the one with the answers. And though He may not give them all to you, He will offer you the courage and faith to trust His plan. And you will receive the blessings that follow obedience! I can say that with certainty!

So if you think that God is trying to take away all your fun and turn you into a weirdo like me---you’d be surprised how much fun it is!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

No visitors allowed at Hannah's Hope...

We actually have 2 friends who will be going to Ethiopia to get their children in the next few weeks so I asked AGCI if they could stop and check in on Evan at Hannah's Hope. The answer was "no". Evidently only AGCI families and mission workers are allowed in order to keep things flowing and without interruption there. We are disappointed but understanding. We are getting more and more excited all the time about being there!!

We received two new unexpected photos of Evan last night that another Mom had taken while she was at Hannah's Hope! Talk about a blessing! Wow! Carley said he was "as cute as a button"! I don't know where she heard that expression, but it sure was darling coming out of her mouth!

Friday, January 15, 2010

One flock, One Shepherd

I picked up two principals this week at Bible Study that I want to share with you. Both are from John chapter 10.

John 10

The Shepherd and His Flock
1"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
14"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
It is so comforting to know that Jesus is my shepherd and that He goes ahead of me. Not only to show me the way, but also to take care of things before I get there. He is brave and protective. As we walk through this adoption (and every other unpredictable part of life) He is there, forging ahead of us, making a way, blazing the trail, preparing a place for us. Thank you Jesus.
And then also this idea of ONE flock and ONE shepherd. The one true living God is a God of unity. He is ONE shepherd watching over ONE flock. He doesn't see us through the divisions of denominations, race, economics, language, or any other barrier. The only division HE sees is in our response to His son Jesus. Have we accepted Him and bowed our knee, or have we rejected Him. This is meaningful to me now as I know that others may look at our "new" family and see division between "biological" and "adopted", between black and white, but my God just sees our family, perfectly designed by Him.

Revising my lingo...

My friend left her little boy here for us to watch the other day and it was so neat to have a little man in the house--a little sneak peek of what is to come!! I had to keep correcting myself because I am so used to the female terms of affection like "sissy", or the group call "ladies". So I am trying to come up with a list of male nicknames. Here's what I have so far...
  • Buddy
  • Son
  • Bubba
  • Bubby
  • Champ
  • Slugger
I also need to start transitioning into terms like "the kids" rather than "the girls", or "ladies and gentleman" instead of simply "ladies". :) So much to think about! Please respond with your favorite boy terms so I can increase my repertoire. Thanks.

Prayer for Evan...

My sweet friend Karen, who is also adopting from Ethiopia, wrote this prayer for Evan and gave it to me:

Dear Father,
We pray Baby Evan will have a mind that meditates on what is good and not what is evil. That You will give him eyes that see You working all around him, and ears that listen for Your voice of wisdom and instruction. We pray his tongue will speak the truth and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while his lips sing Your praises before men. May You give him a compassionate heart that loves all kinds of people, and may he have gentle hands that serve You and those around him. We pray his knees will become calloused from persistent praying and his feet will walk in paths of righteousness all the days of his life.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Referral Acceptance Papers are officially at AGCI!

I guess overall this was the easiest batch of papers we've had to fill out yet. Rus was going to try to be helpful and do them for us until he saw the Transition plan that was several pages long and looked like they were asking for essay type answers and then he ran screaming from the room! OK, he didn't really scream or run...:) but he knew that neither his penmanship nor his creative writing skills were going to "make the grade" for something this important! We overnighted the packet back to AGCI on Tuesday (one week from our referral date). The lady at the UPS store asked me if I was sending anything illegal or dangerous--I laughed out loud! I said "no, we're not that exciting!" I then shared how exciting these papers really were and she shared that she too is an adoptive mom and we had a great conversation!

Julie called on Wednesday to say we had forgotten to initial the bottom of the medical papers--I share this for all other AGCI families because it is something you may easily overlook. So, we printed them again, initialed them, and spent another $29. to overnight them. Now it is Thursday and all is well. Julie emailed to let me know she has everything and we are moving ahead!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Fun

We don't get much snow in KY, so when it does snow, it is BIG FUN! The girls have been out every day pulling each other around in the sled, chasing Cooper, and "shoveling"!

Pause and Prepare

Morgan(age 10) said "wouldn't it be great if we could just press PAUSE on Evan until we can get there to get him?" I think it is a GREAT idea!

When I first saw his face on the computer screen I called him "D", his Ethiopian name, the name our CW called him on the phone. We named him Evan a year ago when we began this journey, and found out later that it means "God is good". It was about an hour after THE CALL when I looked at his photo and called him Evan and knew it was really HIM! Something shifted in my brain and I knew this was Evan!

All this last year when we have tried to imagine him it was so difficult because we didn't know if he would be a 4 month old infant, a 6 month old sitting up, a 9 month old crawler, or a 12 month old walker? An expectant mom wants to buy clothes for her sweetie pie but all I could buy were BIBS! That is the only thing I could be sure would fit! Not only didn't I know what size he would need but also what season? So I still don't know exactly when we will get there to pick him up, but I certainly have much more to go on than ever before and I am thrilled! Some friends are planning baby showers which is wonderful since we don't own anything BOY at our house! What is it again? Snips and snails and puppy dog tails? Sounds interesting, I think I'm going to need some help. :)

We talked to our adoption educator on the phone the other night about attachment issues and babies having difficulty bonding to their new parents. I began to think about how our family has been preparing for Evan for almost 13 months now. We have been talking about him, including him in all our "family discussions", decorating a room for him, buying him gifts and toys, and praying constantly for him. We are prepared to receive him. But Evan, on the other hand, is he prepared for us? There is no way for him to know that we are here in Kentucky loving him and longing for him. There is no way to prepare a three month old for his family. And so when we walk in the orphanage on that extra special day and we are already head over heels for him and rush in to shower him with he going to be like "hey, who are these people and why are they all up in my space??" It is a very one-sided preparation huh? So I will pray for God to prepare Evan for what is to come. To prepare him for Daddy's hairy arms and for Mommy's constant clapping, for Morgan's piano playing, for Paige's ballet dancing, and for Carley's "peet-a-boo". Sweet Evan--we can't wait to overwhelm you with our pent-up love!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

So what happens after THE CALL?

I did have the peace of mind to get out a pen and paper and write down much of what my case-worker told me on the phone about our son. But once the dust had settled I began to wonder "what comes next?" and realized I had no idea. :)

Well, I must admit I was in a complete adrenalin-induced daze! I remember when Morgan (my oldest) was born around midnight and I don't think I slept at all that night. My mind was racing re-living every moment of that spectacular day trying to burn it all into my brain so I would never forget how wonderful it was. Getting THE CALL was the same way. Overwhelming relief mixed with unspeakable joy! I didn't think I would sleep at all Tuesday night after seeing Evan's face for the first time. Can you even imagine how strange it is to scroll down an email to see your new son's face? The face you've been dreaming of for over a year? Well I did sleep, I completely crashed about 11:30 pm, total exhaustion.

THE PACKET: The agency overnights a package of papers to fill out to accept the referral. Ours went to our old address--one of the joys of moving so often, so they had to send another one. The packet is pretty simple, lots of repeats of forms we have done before, or at least very similar. I have filled out the writing portion and we will take them to the bank tomorrow to be notarized and get them in the mail. Only one form is dependent on someone else and that is the one our social worker must sign and mail in so let's pray that she is fast with that. My understanding is that these papers are all for the agency though and won't slow down anything happening in Ethiopia which is where all the REALLY important stuff is happening right now!

THE DOCTOR: We emailed all the referral info to our international pediatrician so she could decipher the reports, tests, and most of all--the handwriting of the Ethiopian docs. She called on Wednesday afternoon and reviewed everything with Rusty. At the end she asked "any questions?" and Rusty looks down at his one inch post-it note where he has scratched out "HIV, Hep A, Hep B, parasites" and says "uh, no, but I think my wife might have some" :) Men just don't take notes like women huh?! So she offered to call me back later that night to discuss. The bottom line was she didn't have any real concerns and said "he's a keeper!" which we already knew! What a relief and an answered prayer not to have to labor over any health concerns.

THE ACCEPTANCE: Once we talked with the Dr. I called Julie (our CW) to let her know that we were accepting the referral and she said she would get in touch with the director at Hannah's Hope (our agency transition home where Evan is now) to begin to translate and authenticate our documents. They will blend Evan's file with our file to go to the appropriate legal offices. It could be a few weeks before we hear about our court date. Our prayer is to have a successful court date in February and travel in March.

THE CONFERENCE CALL: Next was an hour long conference call with the agency's adoption educator to discuss behavior, attachment, sleep issues...etc. This call was helpful in filling out some of the papers in the packet so I would recommend taking the call ASAP after your referral. It was similar to the things we learned during the education portion of the dossier.

Friday, January 8, 2010

More celebration photos...

What a dedicated support system! Angelia's husband was at the Urgent Treatment Center with a broken finger when this photo was taken. She just couldn't wait another minute to see little Evan's face! Angelia was one of our first friends to know about our decision to adopt--she is a very intuitive friend who doesn't let much slip by and she also knows how to interrogate her subject! ha ha
This is my friend Myra. We graduated high school together but lost touch until Facebook came along and we discovered that we both had 3 daughters and were in the process of adopting sons internationally! She recently brought home precious 2 year old Sam from China! She has been a fantastic resource and rock of support for me!
My friend Stefany. A mutual friend hooked us up at the beginning of our adoption journey. Stefany brought her little Ethiopian prince, Jordan, home in May 2009. It is so nice to have other moms who understand this process! Stefany has rejoiced and mourned with me more than once on this roller coaster and when we got the news of the referral she was there right away! She even brought brownies!!

Rejoice with those who rejoice;
mourn with those who mourn.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The CALL celebration...

My first phone call was to Angie (#2 on the AGCI waiting list for boys). We had made plans to get together at my house at 3pm. This would be our first face-to-face meeting since we "met" on December 20 on the listserv (AGCI's chat group). You can imagine how shocked we were to find out that not only do we live in the same city in KY but also shop at the very same grocery store! Our houses are less than two miles apart! Only God could put this story together. After seeing my listserv posting about being #1 on the boys list Angie sent me an email to "introduce" herself. She suggested I find her on facebook. I did, and when her photo came up it said we had one mutual friend. "How strange" I'm thinking? I take a look at her profile and see my city and my state!! Both of us using an adoption agency in Oregon, both of us adopting infant boys, back to back on the waiting list! Unreal.

Rusty got home and was covered in white primer--he literally looked like a ghost! He had been painting a basement! I had one photo up on one laptop and another photo up on the other laptop and then some printed in the chair! It was "surround sound Evan!" He goes up to get in the shower and the chaos begins...

Angie and her darling baby boy (homegrown) come over at 3 and we rejoice over our referral and goo over the photos, but not for long because her cell phone starts ringing. The ID says AGCI. She says "it's probably just my check in call". And that's when the screaming began! It was her referral call and she freaked out! At this point my friends Angelia and Stephanie are both at the house and we are all crying and clapping and jumping up and down. The kids come up from the basement to see what all the commotion is about. I bet Angie wasn't at my house for 15 minutes total. She packed up her son and flew back out to get home and continue the phone call with her husband and their computer!! It was AMAZING to get to share that moment with her! We were instant friends because of our common cause and now we are undoubtedly friends for life because of the way God has so beautifully knit our stories together.

The next few hours was a whirlwind of phone calls and visits. I felt as high as a kite, exactly how I felt after giving birth each time. I was sure I wouldn't sleep because the adrenaline was so strong.

Angie and her husband Matt came back over around 7 and we celebrated together over pizza. The kids played and we got to see the photos of their handsome son Micah. God is good.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The CALL we've been waiting for...

So if you read Monday (the 4th) nights post you know that I was at the end of my (waiting) rope. I woke up Monday thinking "ok, new day, new week, new month, even NEW is time for our referral!" But Monday wasn't our day, so I went on bedrest! :) What we did get on Monday was an email from our CW saying she would be calling Monday or Tuesday for our monthly update. I took this as a warning not to get too excited when I saw ACGI on the caller ID because they didn't have a referral for us. How frustrating.

Tuesday morning I woke up and talked to God about 2 things: 1-Please take this (adoption) out of my mind, even for just one hour today, PLEASE, because I am all consumed. 2-I cannot go to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) on Wednesday morning without a photo. There are 400 women in my BSF class and each one of them (well maybe not EVERY one of them) are watching our adoption progress, which is great, yet difficult when week after week I have to say "no, we still haven't heard anything." So I pleaded with God not to make me go back without a photo and seriously contemplated skipping, which anyone who knows me knows I LOVE my BSF!! It's my big day out-on-the-town! So those were my 2 prayer topics for Tuesday a.m.

I made it through a good school morning and came upstairs to fix lunch. I called my hub on the cell and while we were talking the home phone starts ringing (it's 12:50 pm). I see AGCI on the ID and started to hang up with Rus (assuming it is the check-up call) when he said "no, I want to stay on the line, just set the phone down and answer it!" So I answered and Julie says "I have good news for you. I thought I was going to be calling with your update, but I'm not...I have a referral for you!" My husband says all he heard was "Hello....sob, sniffle, flat out bawl!" and he knew it was good news. He hung up and jumped in the truck to come home!! :) Seriously, I had to take a moment to collect myself before she could say anything else. The floodgates were open! Six weeks of pent up anxiety suddenly broke free in an avalanche of relief, disbelief, and PRAISE!

So Julie filled me in on our son born in late September (he's about 3.5 months). Come to find out the reason our referral took so long is that he was in the hospital due to dehydration for a few days and they wanted to be sure all was well before placing him. So not only did I get my referral but my God was gracious enough to reveal the reason for the wait (which He didn't have to do) this was such a blessing to us! My good friend also pointed out how difficult it would have been for us over the holidays if we had his referral and knew he was hospitalized. Wow, thank you Lord, You really do "have the whole world in Your hands"! Evan seems to be doing really well now; eating and sleeping fine.

The girls did SO well during the phone call! They sat and ate their lunch as quiet as little mice. Morgan would walk over and see what I was writing down and then report back to the Paige and Carley in whispers what she was learning. When we got off the phone the girls and I immediately go to the office to fire up the laptop and open the email to see his picture. Of course it gives me trouble, I mean how could it possibly work fast enough when it holds the image I have dreamed about for the last 12.5 months??? It is the strangest feeling to be scrolling down an email to see your brand new babies face for the first time! That's just not how it happened with the girls! :) So we looked and the girls oooohed and aaaaahed over him and then I turned on the tv for them so I could really "get down to business"! First I must really inspect him from head to toe. The first picture he was in a sleeper with feet and all and I'm thinking "strip him down--I want to see arms, legs, and especially some feet!!" PTL they did take some photos in just a onesie so I could see MORE! He really is "fearfully and wonderfully made". Just adorable. Couldn't be happier.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I am officially on (self-proclaimed) BED-REST !

I've done all I can do, I've handled this wait the best I could for as long as I can, and now, in my own professional opinion, I must go on bedrest. At 12.5 months pregnant who can blame me? Just me and my laptop. Please bring food occasionally.

Seriously, Rusty and I talked last night that we are simply paralyzed by this wait. We are constantly saying "after we get the referral...". The scariest part is that after we get the referral we simply move into another waiting period (waiting for a court date). I can't even think about that. They tell me only about 50% of the court dates are successful on the first try. Can't think about that either (la la la la I can't hear that!!). Don't even let me see your blog if you lost a referral in any way, shape, or form--I jump off that site as fast as my finger can hit the X button! I also refuse to read any blogs that have timelines that don't agree with my "ideal", or what I have deemed reasonable and normal. I could be losing my mind, unsure at this point. It's ok though because I'm in bed where it's safe.

We got an email from the agency today "warning" us that they will be calling in the next 2 days for a regular monthly update. I guess they are familiar with #1 Moms (or probably anywhere in the top 10) who see the caller ID and flip out instantly thinking it is their referral and they have simply called to check in. They said they would answer any questions we have.
That's easy.
That's it. Just one question.
The question is, can I say that much without crying?
Or, as my friend suggested, just let Rus answer and listen in on the other phone so there is just a low sobbing in the background.
Really, is it just me or is 6 weeks too long to be #1 on the waitlist?
Isn't 12.5 months of longing for a baby boy a little much?
147 Million orphans and not one to bring home to our family?
The room is ready, the crib is empty and just longing to be spit up in :).
The sisters are pumped, prayerful and ready to pounce!
Dad is ready for his little buddy and Mom is ready for bottles and diapers, singing and rocking!
All we need is our little Evan boy.
Please Lord, let today be the day we see his face.

Oh Lord, rescue him because You delight in him, take hold of him and draw him out!
Psalm 18:16,19

Another fun project...

One of our other favorites this Christmas was the cards I had made out of family photos. The girls love to play "Go Fish" and "Concentration" so I had doubles made of photos of friends, family and important events so they could "match" them. I designed a back for the cards and took them to Office Max to be laminated. It's a little pricey but the kids think it is great to ask "do you have Ma Maw?" or "do you have Morgan's 9th Birthday Party?" It is a great way to familiarize the kids with people who are important to you but you don't get to see very often. I know my girls will feel more comfortable around these special people after looking at the pictures and "playing" with them every day! It has also been good to talk about who is married to who and quiz the girls on "who is her Mommy/Daddy/Brother/Sister?"...etc. So make sure you have your camera handy and start snapping some individual shots of your peeps!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Our Puzzle Project

I bought this puzzle the end of November as a way to keep the family busy while we wait. It is a farm scene called "Daddy's Little Helper" that will go with Evan's "Barn Dance" theme room. I thought I would modge podge it and frame it on the wall. Well, my resolve didn't last long on this project and neither did the girls! Who knew how many pieces 1,000 was??? The most memorable moment was when Rus spent an hour putting the tractor together only to find Carley hovered over it later saying "Daddy look how much I helped!" (she had taken it completely apart and even seperated the pieces!!) Anyway, Rusty stuck with it to the end only to find one piece missing! This really isn't terribly surprising considering Carley's "help" and all the other chaos in the house. He was so disappointed until our good friend pointed out the clear significance. Our family is missing a piece right now as well. He suggested we actually highlight the missing piece by painting under it a bright yellow or orange and continue with the plan to frame and hang it along with a note that explains that our family is incomplete until Evan comes home. So cool.

Adoption T-shirts for the Family!

One of our favorite gifts this Christmas were the t-shirts I bought online at this great site I found called . They have every type of adoption t-shirt you can imagine and most can even be specific to the country you are adopting from. If you know someone who is adopting this would be an awesome gift! The prices were very reasonable and we were pleased with the quality too.

Happy New Year!

It blows my mind that it is 2010 and we don't have a photo of Evan yet! I didn't think I could make it to Thanksgiving without seeing his face, then Christmas, and now the new year! I am twelve and a half monthes pregnant and I can feel it!!

Also, this new blogging thing is really getting me off my schedule :) I am staying up much too late and not wanting to get out of bed in the morning! I have a feeling this is only the beginning of a new crazy schedule!

Why Wouldn't I?