Thursday, December 31, 2009

We Got Our Referral!!!!!

I am very, very, very excited to announce............... We have a four-month-old son!!!!!!! I wish that I could share his picture because he is absolutely precious. He has a big smile and bright, shining eyes. They are so dark brown and beautiful. His skin is "caramel latte" color and his hair looks black and silky. I could go on and on.... Can you tell I am excited? I have made prints of the three photos that they sent us, and we have them posted everywhere around our house. My love for him is growing by the hour.

We got the phone call on Tuesday. Daniel was able to come home from work so that we could be together when we heard about him and saw his picture for the first time. We spent that day just taking it in, reflecting, praying. Yesterday we started calling and emailing all of our family and friends. Today I am ready to shout it to the whole world! We have a baby boy!

My heart is full, and I just want to head to the airport right now to go and get him. Unfortunately, the best case scenario is that we will be able to travel in late February or early March. For now we have to wait: first to be given a court date, then for our court date to arrive, then to be given our travel date, then for our travel date to arrive. At the least, this will take two months.

I didn't know how I would feel after we found out the details about our little boy. I thought that possibly I would feel even more restless and anxious than I did before we got our referral. But that hasn't been the case. I have slept so well the past couple of nights. I know now that he is well taken care of at our adoption agency's transition home. He is no longer in the rural orphanage where he was initially abandoned, where they possibly had no electricity, no formula, and far too few staff members. He is in a safe, clean place with great nannies and a doctor on staff. His smile is so bright and alive in the photo that they sent us. It helps me to feel peace that he is OK.

I do feel desperate to find out as much information about him as possible. We have so little. All we know is that he is from a small village in the southwest of Ethiopia, his mom was 22, and she did not list a father when she relinquished him at the orphanage. I don't know if he died or if he is just not in her life. I do not know what her situation was - sick, poor, or just otherwise incapable of caring for him. The meaning of his name is "Miracle" so I trust that she loved him from the day that he was born and did all that she could to make sure that he was going to be OK even if she was not. I don't really even know how to go about getting more information. But I am going to do all that I can to find out more about his short life story.

I wish that I could leave you with a photo that would definitely make you smile, but that has to wait until after we pass court and he is officially our son. Until then, just trust me - he's cute! :)




Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Begins

We have had a weekend full of Christmas festivities. Here are a few photos of the fun:

My sis and brother-in-law came in from Georgia on Friday and had dinner at our house along with Daniel's sister. Yes, Madeline eats in just her diaper when we are at home. :)


Saturday night was cousin Annie's first birthday party. She LOVED her cake. The pink icing was everywhere!


Madeline gets SO excited to see her Aunt Rachel (Ka-Kel is how she says it). Aunts and uncles are always good for some rambunctious play time.


Here's M showing off her somersault skills. She is very proud of this new trick that her daddy taught her.

video

"Christmas Day" for our family was on Sunday. Here's my sister Rachel, her husband Charlie, and sweet, 4-month-old Abigail.


Daniel and me


Abigail and Santa, I mean, my dad


Rachel, Charlie, and cousins Andrew and Becca


Cousin Hope and Annie


Madeline is absolutely in love with Abigail and hovers over her all the time. She kisses and pats her and loves to lay on her play mat with her. I am thinking that she is going to be a great big sister in a few months.



Abigail makes a great centerpiece.


This is our attempt at a family photo at a big family Christmas party on Monday night.


We gave up after two tries...


And... I couldn't resist sharing... I got the best Christmas gift ever from Daniel: Fleece footie pajamas with matching ones for Madeline! Seriously, I LOVE them.



Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Songs

I have a couple of new favorite Christmas songs. Through the blogs of friends I found these two adoption-themed Christmas songs. I am warning you - they are both major tear-jerkers if you are an adoptive mom. Click on the links below to listen to the words. Have your kleenex ready.


MERRY CHRISTMAS by Third Day


There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for momma's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
There the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
Make angels in the snow

But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time to celebrate the holy child
And we celebrate his perfect gift of love
He came to earth to give his life
And prepare a place for us
So we could have a home with him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And I'll tell you from my heart, and I'll you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas


THIS CHRISTMAS by Toby Mac


Woman: Joy to the world
Let heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and nature sing

Toby Mac:Now Johny never got his wish on December 25
That's what he said when he left the orphanage
9 years old, but Johny was an old soul
Gonna spend his first Christmas in a real home
Showed me a picture that he drew the night before
Was a picture of a man standin' outside a door
I asked him who it was and he said someone I only
see in dreams
Comforts me when I cry myself to sleep

Woman:Father of the fatherless
Be with your sons and daughters this Christmas
This Christmas

Toby Mac:Believe in angels?
Johny asked me starin' at the sky
I said I do and saw a sparkle in his eye
Big brother for the weekend respondin' to the season
Took the chance that givin's better than recievin'
Two nights, a new family, some holiday cheer
We laughed and sang
Came on a midnight clear
We gave, recieved, and as we headed to close
We looked to the heavens and it started to snow
Down blessings

Woman: Father of the fatherless
Be with your sons and daughters this Christmas
(Toby Mac:You ain't livin' til you choose to give love and joy and
peace to one of His)
Father let us not forget
The children who are all alone this Christmas
(Toby Mac:You ain't livin' til you choose to give, you ain't livin' til
You choose to give)

(James 1:27)
Little Boy: Religion that God our Father
Accepts as pure and faultless is this
To look after orphans and widows in their distress
Merry Christmas everyone

Woman:Joy to the world
The Lord is come
Let heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and nature sing
Let heaven and nature sing

Toby Mac:Believe in angels Jonnie asked me starin' at the sky
I said I do and saw a sparkle in his eye
9 years old, but Jonnie was an old soul
Gonna spend is next Christmas in a real home

Woman: Father of the fatherless
Be with your sons and daughters this Christmas
(Toby Mac:You ain't livin' til you choose to give love and joy and
peace to one of His)
Father let us not forget
The children who are all alone this Christmas
(Toby Mac:You ain't livin' til you choose to give, you ain't livin' til
You choose to give)
Father of the fatherless
Be with your sons and daughters this Christmas
Let Heaven and nature sing
Let Heaven and nature sing
Father let us not forget
The children who are all alone this Christmas
(Toby Mac:You ain't livin' til you choose to give, you ain't livin' til
You choose to give)

Toby Mac: You ain't livin'
You ain't livin'
You ain't livin'

Woman: Let Heaven and Nature sing
Let Heaven and nature sing
(Toby Mac:You ain't livin' til you choose to give, you ain't livin' til
You choose to give)
Don't leave me all alone
This Christmas

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Beauty

Am I blessed to have a husband who is a professional photographer or what?









Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

African Angel

I have been doing some really fun shopping lately. While we were raising money for our adoption, we would often see the fundraisers that other adoptive families were holding and wish that we could help them out and buy their stuff. But money was just too tight to be buying T-shirts and ornaments. We kept telling each other that it was going to be so much fun when we finally had all of our money raised because we could start supporting all of the fundraisers that other families were doing.

Well, I am thankful that we now have the freedom to do just that! We have done almost all of our Christmas shopping from adoptive families and awesome ministries that benefit Africa. It has been a blast! And in the meantime, a few items just for US have found their way into our Etsy shopping cart.

One of those is this precious African angel ornament made by Amy Smith, a mom raising money to adopt from Ethiopia.


Check out her Etsy site to buy one yourself!

This artistic lady is also selling custom caricatures of families, that I just love! She sells these watercolor portraits for only $25 each! Aren't they cute?! I am picturing one of these on Little Brother's wall later on...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Order T-shirts for Christmas Now!

If you would like to receive your Go. Seek. Love. T-shirts before Christmas, please place your orders now! The deadline is Monday evening December 14th at 10 pm. All T-shirts ordered by then will be shipped on Saturday the 19th.

Thank you and merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Few Recommendations

MOVIE
Last weekend Daniel and I watched the movie Live and Become. Have I mentioned before that I LOVE Netflix? :) Wow. The movie follows the story of an 8-year-old Ethiopian boy who is sent alone to the country of Israel during the 1980's. Apparently during that time, thousand of Ethiopian Jews were welcomed into Israel because of the famine in Ethiopia. The story follows the boy as he is adopted by an Israeli family and grows up and tries to figure out who he is in this world. I enthusiastically recommend this for every adoptive family.



BOOK
Over the weekend I read The Strength of Mercy by Jan Beazely. Jan's family began the international adoption agency All God's Children International. The book chronicles their story of adopting a child from Romania in the 90's, the courage it took, and all that they learned along the way. It is a quick read, and I highly recommend it.


WEBSITE
I have recently discovered a gold mine for families adopting from Ethiopia: www.amharickids.com. They offer books for kids and for adults about Ethiopia and about adoption. They even have cookbooks, calendars with photos of Ethiopia, and books fables from Ethiopian culture. I have put about half of what they offer on their website on my Christmas list this year! I love their cool jewelry made from coffee beans by women with AIDS in Ethiopia, too. Check it out!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Third Stocking

We are now officially a three-stocking family! Madeline's stocking is now finished, and I am so happy. I picked up the part with her name on it yesterday, and I finished piecing it together this afternoon.


I copy-catted a Pottery Barn Kids design when I made her stocking, and I made it out of red corduroy.

This is the reason that having a unique, hand-made stocking for each family member is such a big deal for me:


When Daniel and I were dating in college, I started this cross-stitch stocking for him. We started dating our freshman year and knew pretty quickly that we wanted to get married. We had to wait a LONG time (3 1/2 years to be exact) until we finally graduated and were able to wed. That gave me ample time to work on the thousands of stitches in this crazy-intricate design.

I knew that there was no way that I could create such a time-consuming stocking for myself, so I decided that I would make each family member's stocking completely unique, with no attempt to make them match at all. So after we got married I made this stocking for myself:


I pieced together patchwork of several red and green fabrics to make this one. The hardest was attaching the tiny gold beads that I used to write my name at the top. ( They don't show up very well in this photo.)

I am already planning the design for Little Brother's stocking for next year.... :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Love Christmas!

I love to bake. I especially love to bake sweet things. The Christmas season gives me a great excuse each year to go all out trying new yummy recipes. This weekend was designated Christmas Baking Weekend. I spent all day (literally) in the kitchen on Saturday. Here is what I made:


  • Caramel corn
  • Ultimate brownies (brownie on bottom, marshmallow cream in the middle, and chocolate, peanut butter, and rice krispies on top!)
  • Gingerbread men (I ran out of steam before these got decorated)
  • Buttery oatmeal crisp cookies, half dipped in chocolate
  • Turtles
  • Peppermint fudge
And Monday was the even more fun part: I took my grandmother to deliver 8 plates of homemade goodies to her friends! That was my Christmas present to her this year, and she loved it!


While I am on the subject of Christmas, I thought I would share a few photos of our home sweet home decorated for the season. I love Christmas decorations!!!!! (Disclaimer: Our house only looked this way for about 3 minutes. As soon as I finished taking the pictures, the clutter and toys and dirty dishes started to accumulate again. :) )


Yes, there are still only two stockings on the mantel. Although I am not the craftiest person in the world, I have made all of our Christmas stockings. Last year I made M's stocking, only to end up not being able to find anyone with one of those fancy sewing machines to embroider her name at the top. Christmas came and went, and of course, it got put on the back burner. I am pleased to say that I found someone to add her name to it, and it should be ready any day.


The piano with the poinsettias I found for 99 cents at Lowe's!


Our kitchen. This is where I spend A LOT of time. We have a cozy, 1500-square-foot house, and we were commenting the other day that we really USE every square inch of it. I am glad for that. By the way, Daniel made our beautiful, cherry kitchen table (as well as most of the furniture in our house.) He is such a talented guy!


Daniel made this writing desk too with walnut from my grandparents backyard. I love my Willow Tree nativity scene.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Heart is Hurting

The anticipated time for our referral is getting closer, and I am grieving. My heart feels heavy. I know that the referral of a child to us means that a tragedy has taken place. Parents have died. Or a mother feels hopeless about her son's future, powerless to provide for him, and abandons him to an orphanage. Or she becomes terribly ill and can no longer care for him..... That is what's going on on the other side of the world as we excitedly wait for our referral phone call to come.

Things like that are happening all the time in this world, I know. But this time it will be happening to our son. And to the precious woman that I will probably never have the honor to meet, his birthmother.

This is on my mind all of the time: the heartbreak, the poverty, the disease that are the reality of my son's life. My heart is breaking because my boy is losing his first mama right about now. And she is losing him. As the time for our referral is drawing near, tragedy is striking.

I often wonder - are we doing the right thing? What if we just sent the thousands that we have raised for the adoption to help families in Ethiopia instead of spending it all on the adoption of one? How many families might be able to stay together because of the medical care they could receive, the improved nutrition, the opportunity to make a living for their children? All that money would go so far to help so many.

I don't know... But I do know that there are many, many who have already been orphaned or abandoned and need a mommy and daddy. I know that we are called as followers of Christ to "look after orphans in their distress." I know that God has led us down the path that we are walking. I also know that the path doesn't end here, with the adoption of one child. God is teaching us so much through this experience. He is opening our eyes to suffering in the world that we had never before taken the time to learn about. Now it is personal. This is just the beginning of our family's involvement with the people of Ethiopia.

I think the answer is: Do both.

I am thankful for all that God is teaching us on this journey. But oh, my heart hurts for my baby.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving


We had a great time with family over Thanksgiving. Wednesday, Madeline and I got to spend the day with my sister Rachel, her hubby, and baby Abigail. Madeline was so excited to see them, she could hardly contain herself. She just kept dancing around. We took the two girls to have their picture made with Santa, and it was pretty much a bust. Madeline was not a fan. I felt really bad afterward for making her do that.


Baby Abigail and me

We spent Thursday and Friday with Daniel's family in Kentucky. At his parents' house, 21 people gathered from 4 states and Germany (his aunt and uncle are stationed overseas with the Air Force). They are such a fun group, and we always have a great time with them. I love it that Madeline is now old enough to enjoy the holidays. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my camera while we were there, and so we have no pictures from Thanksgiving this year. :(

The T-shirt business has been booming lately. We have had orders coming in from near and far. It is such fun to see this little non-profit "business" grow. It can be a bit time consuming, though. We print them by hand, and then each one has to be heat set individually for 5 minutes. When you are printing 40-50 shirts, that takes a while... But when I got an email with this picture yesterday, it made every bit worth it.


The Dixons' extended family decided to surprise them by all ordering Go Seek Love shirts to wear to their Thanksgiving gathering this year. (This is the family who is now receiving the profits from the T-shirt sales.) They were totally surprised and blessed to feel the support of all of their family. I wish I could have been there to see their faces. I had been looking forward to this surprise so much!