"Every child deserves a home." --Harry Holt

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year and Happy Anniversary!!!

Five years is how long we have been married today.

If I had to do it over again. I'd choose you in a heartbeat. I'd choose you to argue with, to make-up with, to laugh with, to travel with, to adopt a child with.

Very thankful for you in my life. You have been there through the think and thin, and I like to think I'm there for you in the ways that you need too.

Everyone says it isn't a good idea to get married "young," but I wouldn't change anything about being "high school sweethearts" about going off to college and pursuing our separate paths, but always putting the needs and desires of each other first. I wouldn't change the craziness over the last 5 years of marriage. I can't wait to continue on this journey, see the world and grow our family. I love you.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas- Yes, this is a little late...been a little busy! :)

Moved into a new house this summer. We loved our condo, but made the decision to have a little extra room (read: backyard) after we officially began the adoption process. If I had to do it over again, I would have moved before starting all of the paperwork because it created some paperwork headaches when changing our address over, but overall we lucked out and it went smoothly. We LOVE our new HOME. Diogee LOVES the backyard almost more than we do.

Ethiopia is the country we have fallen love with, as it will be the birth country of our son or daughter.

Returned to Colorado to visit brother Todd last summer. So much fun with Kara, Ben, Todd, Mom and Dad. I will never forget white-water rafting with those people. So exciting to see my mom doing something daring after having to protect her shoulder pre and post surgery for so long.

Really big milestones were celebrated as K's g-parents and my g-parents each celebrated 60th Anniversaries. Wow... that is a number we just don't hear very often when it comes to marriage. My thanks and gratitude to all of them for the love, prayers and support they have provided and mostly for the wonderful example they have set forth in their union and vows to one another.

Yes, I am now going to mention our 'furbaby.' Diogee (D.O.G.) is quite the character at our house. It is true that he is so ugly he is cute. When I was in graduate school, and still didn't know too many people, it was Diogee who kept me company while studying (while K was at work), and got me out of the house for long W.A.L.K.S. (Oh, sorry, I guess I didn't need to spell it here...but if you accidentally say that word in our house, be prepared for a ball of fuzz to shoot into your lap, start licking your face, run to the door, jump, and run back to you, rinse, repeat). It is hard to imagine, Diogee taking a "backseat" to the little one coming. I'm sure it will happen, but I get a knot of guilt when I think about it. I owe that pup for keeping me so highly entertained over the last 4 years!

Colorado, Chicago and Las Vegas were the sights of this years "vacations". As usual, there were trips made to MN, ND and SD as well!

He saw to it that 2 of our family members came through surgery this Christmas season, and that makes 3 members total this month. There were some bumps and bruises on the crazy road to surgery, but everyone has come out of it, and we give THANKS. On to recovery!!!!!

Referral is the word we are waiting so impatiently to hear. For some reason, since we began this process nearly 10 months ago, I've said that January 2011 will probably be our referral month. January 3 will be 5 months on the official wait list. Here's hoping I was right!!!!!!!

Iowa is the place we would like you to visit. on 12/19, 5 years ago we moved all of our stuff to a tiny little townhouse here in Eastern IA. We drove back "home" to graduate from college (2 different colleges in 1 day...I'm still sorry about that to my family, btw). We had Christmas, and were married that New Year's Eve. We left the next morning for our honeymoon, returned a week later and officially lived in our tiny townhouse immediately thereafter (with no furniture for 3 weeks). I look back at that time and wonder what I was thinking?! I guess I felt the need to cram lots of major life events into a 3 week period. It was hard, but we did a nice job of relying on each other as a couple. (Who else were we going to rely on?! We only had each other here!) Admittedly, I've been trying to move out of Iowa pretty consistently for the last 5 years. My rants about being far from family will never cease, but living here has brought us to where we are in our lives today, and I wouldn't change this adoption journey for anything in the world (um, I would speed it up a little...but, it's the Christmas season, so I'm sugar coating). Now, that we have purchased our new house, I'm grasping onto the reality that I'm here to stay (at least for a while). My brothers better make 2011 the year they both visit me, or they are both getting coal for Christmas next year. :)

Systems Engineering Manager is K's job title. Same company. Truthfully, while he has been at the same company since his 1st co-op in 2004, he has held many positions. He has worked in various departments for various people. He was promoted to manager almost 2 years ago, but 2 days after his new position was announced, his department was shut down due to the floundering economy. He stayed on with the company in a different capacity and moved back to manager almost a year ago. He enjoys his job, he is an extremely dedicated worker (which if someone asked me if this is one of his qualities when we started dating, I would have said, NO. He worked hard at his part-time job, but I never once saw him study for a calculus test, etc. His idea of studying for the ACT's was to come over to my house the night before and watch, "October Sky" because it was kind of 'science'y'. Something changed, and it probably has to do with the no books, no lectures, just the hands-on, talking to people, and getting stuff done.

Twin girls were welcomed into our extended family this September. Breley and Kailey were born at 24 weeks gestation, both weighing 1 lb 6 oz and 12 inches long. Breley fought for 2 extraordinary days, but she returned HOME to be with her Lord. We know that it was the end of her time with us, but just the beginning of eternal and beautiful life for her. Her "little" sister Kailey remains in the NICU. She has seen her fair share of struggles, and is enduring some at the time of this writing. We pray for her each day. She is a miracle in her own right. She has challenges ahead of her, but if there is one thing I am certain of, Kailey is a tenacious little bugger. She does things in her own time. We thank those of you who have continued to pray for her alongside of us.

My mom announced she is retiring at the end of this school year. WOW. I've been trying to gauge how she feels about that particular topic for a couple of months, and she never let on that she had made a decision. I'm not sure if I am more shocked she is retiring, or the fact that she kept a secret? (Hi, mom). Phase 1 of "Operation Move My Parents Closer to Me" is a success. Unfortunately, this process has many more phases... (like adoption, no?)

Adoption consumes our every thought. Even when we are consumed by something else, I find it popping up (especially at inopportune times...like when I am trying to focus on someone/something else).

School Counselor is still my job. Middle school counselor to be exact. I would really like to tell you that every day is joyful, wonderful, beautiful. That would be a lie. We have some really fantastic moments, some belly aching laughs, and some truly extraordinary educators. However, when people say, "adoption isn't for the faint of heart," they are telling the truth, it is a nuanced and complex emotional process, but I work in a middle school... I deal with the problems presented by middle schoolers Every. Day. Sometimes, I moan and whine...sometimes I roll my eyes...sometimes I can think of 1,000,000 places I'd rather be, or things I'd rather be doing. Then I stop. Take a breath, and remember that I was once a middle school student, and it was HARD. I make mistakes and have bad days, but I always try to bounce back and have a better attitude about my work.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Last Call for T-shirts!

We are getting ready to quit the T-shirt business, but wanted to let you all (all 7 of you who read this), that we still have a few shirts left. They are $20 and the money goes toward a great cause! We are using the money to make donations to the care center in Ethiopia to ensure they have some of the necessities that they need. We will also be donating to AHOPE whose mission is to care for HIV+ orphans in Ethiopia. Also, who doesn't love a funky, green T-shirt?! Thanks to all of those who have already purchased. I get a warm, fuzzy feeling when my co-workers where their shirts to school on Fridays. Such great people. You can e-mail me for more information or use the paypal button to order on the top-right of the blog. If you need it before Christmas, I'll see what I can do to rush mail it...


Friday, December 17, 2010

If You Don't Stay Up To Date On Your Immunizations

The countdown at the bottom of the page tells me that we have 'officially' been on this journey for 9 months and 3 weeks. It seems to me that the first 5 months went fairly quickly. We were consumed with paperwork, appointments, etc. The last 4 months (almost 5) have kind of drug on... We haven't had anything to do other than read up and wait. We decided to prepare ourselves for travel (mostly to distract ourselves and help us go back to the mode of checking things on the list and hopefully make us feel like we are that much closer to bringing baby home). So, we made a trip to the travel clinic today. We thought we were getting 1 shot for sure...maybe 2...and 3 depending on how our questions were answered. Ummmmmmm, we both ended up with 6 shots. OUCH! So, I guess this is why we should have made sure to get silly things like Tetanus shots when they were due. Looks like we were outdated on pretty much everything, so we got to throw a few in there "for fun." While I can't say that I enjoy getting shots, I do alright. I just talk to myself (tell myself I'll be okay) and take deep breaths. I think that's all I will say about that. K got all 6 shots too, but I think we learned something about ourselves today. What did we learn, you may ask? We learned that I will be the one taking our child for immunizations. LOL. The look on K's face when I got the 6 needles was PRICELESS. Guess he should have gone first? Ha! 

The good news of the day? I'm all caught up on my shots! The not so good news? BOTH of my arms HURT already. My mom wants me to call her tomorrow just so she can hear how badly they hurt in the morning. Goof ball...

Other good news? It's the weekend! Hope you enjoy yours! I'm hoping to not be a test subject for "why you shouldn't get all of those immunizations at the same time." I have some shopping to do still! 

Oh, and... we haven't moved on the list. **Sigh**

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Great Link-ini Post

I don't have much of value to say. I feel like I'm running on a hamster wheel lately...lots of moving and not getting anywhere...blah.

I have been reading blogs (what else is new?), and there have been some really striking posts as of late. I thought I'd link them all here, and if you would like, you can check them out!

This GREAT mom is WAITING impatiently to go get her lil 3 year old guy from Ethiopia. Can't wait to see pics, L! She is doing a nice job of educating on attachment issues, so I figured, why re-invent the wheel when I can just link you to what she has put up???? http://starksjourney.blogspot.com/

This next mom is so real with her emotions. I wish I could sit down with her in real life... I admire how she puts it all out there, what an incredible gift to share so that we may have the privilege of peeking into all sides of adoption...not just the "fluffy" parts. Click HERE

The third link is one of an adoptive mom who is in Ethiopia RIGHT NOW. She has traveled back for a number of reasons, but the big one is to meet the birth mom of her daughter. What an amazing experience. I pray that we have an opportunity to meet someone from the birth family of our child. Read about that, HERE 
The pics from the meeting are in another post, and that is HERE 

Sorry, maybe a little lack-luster. No referral movement news, no nothin... time for bed...can I get a snow day?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I LOVE this Girl's HEART

I've shared about Sami before, but this girl has a heart that just doesn't quit. She is 11 (and I don't know her, but would be honored to meet her!) She is just amazing. She is "1 person can make a difference," personified. I just can't say enough about this little lady. She is selling bottle cap necklaces to buy shoes for kids in Africa. How COOL is THAT?! She has already bought a bunch through her enterprise, but the girl has got a new goal. The bonus is, if you don't have $5 to purchase a necklace, she is having a GIVEAWAY! All you have to do is share about her blog either through your blog or on facebook (leave her a comment so she knows you promoted her). She has a goal of 173 necklaces to sell so that she can buy shoes for the kiddos she has in mind. LOVE THIS GIRL! Did I already mention that?

Check out her blog and necklace designs here (she has some new designs too): http://littlegoody2-shoes.blogspot.com/

I'm signing out like Sami on this one...

Peace, Love, Do Good


We are still strong holding onto our resolve not to find out our "official" numbers on the referral wait list. We had a ballpark estimate that at the end of last week we were sitting around #13. However, an update from our agency has led us to believe that we are probably more like #15 or 16, and really...we are okay with that. 
According to our agency, 3 children who had been referred to families died. We were not given an explanation or further information, other than to say that the families that suffered the unspeakable loss of their children will be placed back at the top of the wait list to accept a referral when they deem they are ready to do so. I cannot fathom the loss and sorrow these families feel. I'm certain they had already memorized every piece of their child(ren) through pictures and were filled with hopes and dreams of bringing them HOME into their families. Our hearts and prayers are with them. 
I keep thinking of my brave little niece, Breley who was born September 3rd and fought it out until September 5th. I'm certain these little kiddos were equally as valiant as my precious niece. That fact does not keep me from asking that awful question of, "Why?" I already know I'm not going to get a satisfactory answer, so I don't know what brings me to keep asking. So, I'll concentrate on these: 

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. Do not be afraid... for I am with you...declares the Lord." Jeremiah 1:5, 8

"And I know there'll be days/ When this life brings me pain/ But if that's what it takes to praise You/ Jesus, bring the rain." -- Mercy Me 'Bring the Rain'

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shock and Awe

Where do I begin? Probably with a tall glass of wine Praising, God...that's where. I don't know why, but I always get this feeling of shock and some awe when my prayers are answered just in the way that I hoped they would be. I have to admit...I'm not the most selfless 'prayee' among the flock. Sometimes, I can't help it...I don't always pray that His will be done... I pray that MY will be done. I know, I know, *gasp*-- I'm working on it. Well, the "expect the unexpected" law in international adoption rules again! That mountain-moving, gasp-giving God has been at it again. Read the previous post to find out what the first half of this week was like...in short, lots of hold-ups for everyone that caused some tears and heartbreak, and forced this girl to re-evaluate and force myself to choose joy. Well, I prayed the selfish prayer...that things would move speedily. Seems my will matched up with HIS, because the delay is over! The licensure renewal has already been obtained by our agency. "Hopeful it will be resolved by the end of December," more like the end of the week! Wahoo!!!!!

Does this mean I get to go back to thinking that I know better? Kidding, God! I'll stop joking...no need to put me in my place. This girl is just, grateful and still choosing joy. The fact that the weekend is just starting, isn't bad either :)



Thursday, December 2, 2010

Be Prepared for the Unknown

Oh, "they" were serious about that, huh? In the international adoption process, it is important to learn to "expect the unexpected" and to somehow reconcile that with your heart and mind. Sure, I knew that intellectually/cognitively, but I think emotionally, our hearts were hoping we would skate through this process without complications. I should have realized back when I was freaking out about our missing homestudy that would not be the only bump in the road. You can read about that HERE. However, I have admitted before and will admit again, that when it comes to matters of the heart, I am consistently hopeful. This is a pretty good quality to have, but it has a tendency to set me up for heartbreak, thereby making me a 'slow learner.' *sigh* Oh well.

So, what is the "bump?" Well, let's have the good news first, shall we? There were 6 referrals that went out this week. November was referral free until Monday. We think we were #20 before the 6 went out. We don't know if all 6 of those referrals were for families ahead of us on the list, but we could be as low as #14. We have decided to not request our 'official' number from here on out. After, obsessing in a completely neurotic and scary less than healthy manner over the #'s, we decided to play a little less tug-of-war with the #'s, God and our hearts. It is quite liberating, so far. Though, I have wavered to great extent slightly about this decision. We can still keep a ballpark figure by following Holt's (our agency) program blog for families adopting from Ethiopia, as well as "buddies" from an online group of Holt/Ethiopia adoptive families. 

The not so good news... It was amazing to finally see some movement on the referral wait list, and it is an awesome feeling to know that kiddos are closer to coming home to their new families. However, there is going to be another drought, but this one does not just affect referrals. There is a licensure delay of the southern orphanages/care centers in Ethiopia. Holt does not actually run a care center because that creates sticky and unethical breeding grounds. Holt first helps families find solutions to parent their children. Relinquishment for adoption is a last resort. Therefore, I imagine it becomes a "child trafficking" issue if Holt directly runs a care center. Instead, they partner with a care center. All of the care centers in southern Ethiopia are going through a licensure renewal process, as the Ethiopian government is making many efforts to ensure that things are run ethically. The bad news, until the renewed license is issued, no referrals can be made. No court dates can be scheduled. No embassy dates can be filled. We are anxious and excited to FINALLY receive our referral, and our hearts were saddened to learn of another delay in the process, but we know that the families that have received referrals and are waiting for court dates AND the families that have attended court and met their children and are awaiting embassy travel dates, are in a tougher spot than us. They have memorized their children's faces, or hugged and loved on them, and the feeling is so much more urgent. The sadness we feel in empathy with them is overwhelming. Holt is "hopeful" that the licensure issue will be resolved by the end of December, so I'm going to be hopeful right along with them. Only 29 more days of December to go!

The news of the delay officially came out yesterday. There was a collective feeling of frustration, confusion and fear. I learned of the resilience and uniqueness of adoptive families today. In the words of a fellow adoptive mom (to be), "I'm choosing joy." Wow, just wow. Blow me away, why don't you?! So, I'm picking up with her and choosing joy and counting my blessings. 

Here is hoping you all can choose joy today too!


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