Saturday, November 17, 2012

One Month In

 Life as we know it: We now have a routine to most days. We all wake up at generally the same time every day, and know the basics of what’s needed to get the day started. Cypress reminds me often to “put lotion on you” before she gets dressed. She likes to say the prayer at lunch time. It usually goes something like this “Dear Jesus, thank you dis food, be with Daddy work, in Jesus’ name AMEN!”
Sami’s lunch now consists of avocados, cereal, or sweet potatoes, or some strange mix of the above. She is generally agreeable with whatever I feed her, and only had one day of grimaces and full body shivers when I introduced avocados before she decided they were ok too. Other than managing to throw the whole bowl of cereal on the floor one day, she’s done very well. 

A typical lunch time conversation between Cypress and I looks something like this:
Cy: Daddy napkin?
Me: no, just Cypress and Mommy for lunch.
Cy: Daddyz work?
Me: yes.
Cy: Daddy almost home?
Me: Daddy comes home when it’s dark.
Cy: No sun?
Me: Yes.
Cy: Mommy Ebbyz big teeth!!
Me: Mmmhmm
Cy: Jazzy woof woof!
Me: Yep
Cy: Who iz Ebby’s mommy?
Me. I don’t know hunny.
Cy: Mommy Ebby Woosha! (Amharic for dog) Followed by Amharic words for banana, flower, water, plate, etc.)
Me: good job, thank you for telling me!
Cy: Grama Bec truck?
Me: No, Grampa Larry has a truck.
Cy:  Mommy, Tatum’s house!
Me: mmhmm, that was fun, huh?
Cy: Mommy, Mommy, MOMMY! Sami sleeping?
Me: mhhm.
Cy: Mommy who izat? (used for “what is that”, “ whose is that”, “who is that”.)
Me: That’s our neighbor.
Cy: Zat house?
Me: Yep that’s their house.
Cy: Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy (looking for a new conversational piece) Candle?
Me: Yep.
Cy: Grama Bec mommy’s mommy’s mommy’s mommy’s mommy’s? (I tried to explain that Grama Bec was Mommy’s mommy. That one has yet to register.)
Me: Yeah kind of.
Cy: Mommy Arsema bottle? NO! Sami bottle? YES!
Me: That’s right.
Cy: Mommy mommy mommy, uncle Landon silly!
Me: yep he’s silly.
Cy: Monkey Heee Heee Haaa Haaaa!
Me: mmhmm, eat your lunch please.

And a few minutes later we repeat all. We have officially entered the questions and conversation phase, I cannot express to you how mutually fun and exciting and terribly brain frying it is. Her language acquisition is incredible to watch. She memorizes knew phrases by repeating them quietly over and over to herself. I will tell her “I’ll be back in a minute” and I’ll hear her saying repeatedly to herself “be back in minute, be back in minute”. She has never expressed frustration over not being able to communicate, but rather laughs at our attempts to repeat her words, and then goes on to a new subject if we can’t find some mutual understanding. However, after 800 times of being asked where Ebby’s mommy is, and “who izat” to endless items around the house, I start hearing a buzzing in my head and tell her I think her going down to jump rope in the basement would be a really good idea. 

Fitting for this phase, her new most frequently used phrase is now “I dunno”.  Her two most missed-used words currently are “tomorrow” (she thinks the high school we drive by is tomorrow…?) and “almost”. We are almost doing a lot of things around here.  When I’m tempted to go a little bit crazy in my head over incessant and terribly abstract conversations that cycle throughout the day, I can’t help but smile to myself and shake my head in wonder. Is anyone surprised that I would have a daughter who craves constant conversation? No?? I didn’t think so. Seriously, God builds families. And He doesn’t require genetics in order to make them share resemblance. It’s mind blowing, really.

Speaking of resemblances, I have a little one who requires sleep in a most demanding manner. She can hardly keep herself together for an hour and a half between naps. I often hold her off until two hours. It gets seriously dramatic, and the drama is usually contagious. She is a sensitive little miss. Sometimes my walking out of the room is grounds for complete panic. And she doesn’t panic quietly. When I’m mumbling to myself about her neediness, I hear voices in my head that sound very much like my Mom’s saying things like “Oh Carrie, you were my needy child. Always wanting held. Craving attention. You didn’t like to play alone and always wanted to be right next to me.” I feel like this might be some sort of retribution. 

Both of the little people take good naps in the afternoon, and because they love to sleep so much, it is usually no problem to get them synchronized. I am so thankful. During this time, I get a facebook and chocolate fix. Or do some paper work and eat cookies. Or fold clothes and watch Parenthood and eat chocolate.

Sami often takes a third nap in the evening while we eat dinner. Cypress asks me at least four times a day when I’m holding/rocking Sami, “Again sleeping Sami?!” In a most incredulous tone.

These are the little things of this phase that will soon be out grown but I don’t want to be forgotten.

  •   Sami loves to imitate to the best of her ability.
  •   My favorite is her clapping. It is so stinkin cute.
  •   And when she whispers “dada” in my ear.
  •  Cypress singing non-stop to her baby, to Sami, to Ebby, to her fans using her microphone (also known as a baby bottle).
  •   When she makes up her songs, nearly every other word is Jesus. Jesus Loves. Love Jesus. Jesus Jesus. I don’t even feel like I’ve sang to her that much yet, but regardless, she loves to sing about Jesus.
  •  Any unidentifiable animal is a squirrel. 
  • Anytime a door (closet, bedroom, basement, etc.) closes between us, we must exchange multiple fairwells. "Ciou Mommy. Goodbye. Ciou. I love you. Goodbye. Ciou. Mommy ciou."
  •  And to my great enjoyment…October and Octopus are still used interchangeably. I may be letting this one slide for a while.

One month in for Momma looks like this. A little less tired…some days. I’ve managed to get in one workout, and consume a lot of cookies. At some point this equation will need to be rectified a little. I continue to be taken aback by these girls’ adaptability and my own floundering. And their extended grace on the days I’m most undeserving. Cypress never fails to comment on my konjo (beautiful) hair when I’ve skipped my shower and have scary bedhead. (She has had to ask twice to see if I have underarm hair, so she is looking out for my hygiene. I’m happy to assure her that I at least have that one covered.) Some days I’m caught off guard when I give her too short of an answer or a less than warm direction and she responds with “Ok. I love you Mommy!” Some days I put Sami to bed in a hurry, my rocking time short and my arms tense with frustration over her crying. Yet she awakens so happy to see me and so ready to cuddle. 

When I hear my sharp tone of voice or short words come out of Cypress’s mouth I cringe. These girls a like a mirror, and some days I really don’ t like what I see. Today I am so overwhelmed with the impression that this is as much about my own learning and refinement and repentance as it is about their instruction and guidance. I’m getting a clearer look at who I was when God first loved me. And who I still I am so many moments and days when I let my flesh make the judgment calls instead of the Spirit of Jesus. I want a life that is engaged in the Kingdom, sold out completely to the work that Jesus has started in me. Yet I find myself at war with a person inside who seeks comfort and always the path of least resistance. “Yes Lord, give me a purpose and a mission! But please, no shorter nights, interruptions to my normal routines, illnesses, surrendering of my own dreams, sacrifices to my social life, and PLEASE no fussy children, they really stress me out.”  And then the Holy Spirit ministers these words to my heart. “Jesus came not to be served but to serve. And to give His life as a ransom for many. (mark 10:45)” And this too. That there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for those dear to you (John 15:13). I see it a little more clearly every day I live in this broken body. That none of this is about me nor can it be delivered by me. I can’t draw on my education or my instinctual love for children or my passion for orphan care or my grit and determination or my belief system in order to love and parent these girls. It’s only and all about God’s love flowing through me. I am nothing on my own. Now if only myself would be crucified once and for all and quit interrupting the love flow. 

So to summarize the first month: Sami is learning to eat and grow teeth. Cypress is learning to speak English. Mommy is learning lessons of faith from her littles. We share many smiles and giggles and songs. The Love that brought us all together is knitting our hearts tighter to each other every day; I can’t imagine life without them both.  They inspire me with their courage, melt me with their unsurpassed cuteness, and draw me to our Abba who has loved us all out of our orphaned state of despair. And even in our busy, hard, exhausting days, they stir me. I see them at our dinner table, blossoming in the love of a family, and I wonder…who will fill our two empty seats?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Reflections on the First Days

Reflections on the first days as a family of four: 

I've already tried to write this post once, but I left that page full of words for a fresh start. There is so much to say and so much potential to say everything but what is really on my heart. I write this primarily for myself, a journal of sorts so I won't forget. So I can look back and smile at the memories and feel relief that we survived the early days. I write it for the girls too, so they can some day read their story from my vantage point. And I write it publicly for anyone who wants to follow along and hear about our craziness, get an honest perspective of adoption, and possibly be moved to step up and fill the family void for the fatherless. Because there is so much I could say and so little time to do so, this post will likely lack any semblance of order. Consider it part birthing story, part baby book, part diary. You've been warned! This first family post is dedicated to the girls, and I'm going to write it to them. Maybe I'll like that angle and continue doing so, who knows.

Your birthing story:

Bringing you home required no morning sickness or labor and delivery. But there were some birthing pains of sorts. The papercut phase from hundred's of documents (lest there be scoffing, I still have the stacks to prove it). Doctor visits. Vaccinations. Insurance meetings, social worker meetings, fire inspector meetings, finger printings and background checks of all sorts, more court house and government office visits than I can count, and the list goes on. Then the waiting phase. 18 months of, well, waiting. Then the travel phase. 11 flights totaling approximately 65 hours of flying time, 22 hours of airport time, and 15 mystery meals (14 1/2 of which I politely declined). Then the treatment of and exposure to a variety of "critters" with names such as giardia, bacterial enteropathogens, tinea capitis, scabies, intestinal parasites, etc. most of which are either present or suspected to be diagnosed in one or more of our family members. There is indeed, a fungus amongus.)So you see, your arrival did include being monitored and tested, tracking hours and stages, facing fears and unknowns, and some uncomfortable bodily functions. But the good news is, Dad had to do it all too. Minus a few things on the above list of critters he managed to escape. At least thus far. 

Once you both arrived, my little honeymoon bubble lasted about an hour, until it was abruptly burst by little sis breaking out the big screams at the nice, quiet Ethiopian restaurant we all went to for lunch. You screamed for nearly an hour, pausing on the van ride home after the dear family riding with us called on Jesus to comfort and calm you. He responded and quieted you for the rest of the ride, but you kicked in again when we arrived at our room. Then the kind lady next door paid a visit and offered me some good Momma advice while my eyes got all watery, and she called on Jesus to comfort and calm you and Momma. We gave you some meds and then Auntie Jan played her guitar and you smiled through your tears. But that was just the beginning of a rough week. We knew you were sick,  and possibly very scared, but we had no idea what to do to comfort you. Momma felt so much fear. I missed Daddy. I missed Grama Bec. I missed my own bed and 8 hours of peaceful sleep. One night you snored so loud with your stuffed up nose I couldn't sleep at all. I cleaned out your nose several times. I turned my phone's sound machine on loud. I took melatonin. I put the phone on my pillow so it was even louder. I put earplugs in. THEN I finally got some sleep. I felt helpless to know what to do for you. I was strange to you, you were strange to me, and we both weren't sure we liked eachother. One night you started crying at midnight and I couldn't calm you. I was so tired. You screamed. I sobbed. Auntie Jan heard all the crying and she came to the rescue. She rocked you in the bathroom and when you finally quieted, she put you to bed and then prayed over Momma. She told me to stop believing Satan's lies that I couldn't be a good Momma, or that things would not get better. My heart filled with peace and we all slept good the rest of the night. She knew that your crying upset me, so she helped me so much. I would stay up late to get things done, and she would get up early to feed you.

Big sis, you jumped into life with a new family like it was a walk in the park. I was so surprised. I knew how shy you were, and when we met you the first trip, I could see the fear and hurt in your eyes every day. I saw it some this time, and still do on occasion, but you made such a change in the time we were away. We prayed every day when we were apart from you that your heart would be healed and that you would know you belonged even though you couldn't see us. I knew when I picked you up that God was answering that prayer. You would get very quiet sometimes and wouldn't want to talk and we knew you were thinking about all the changes, but soon you'd be back to your happy, non-stop giggles. (For a few days you giggled so constant Auntie Jan and I were beginning to wonder just how much giggling we could handle. We now know that is one way you show your nervousness:) You tested Momma's boundaries several days, trying to see just how much I meant what I said. And you tried to play with my heart a few times, giving all your love to Auntie Jan and not wanting anything to do with me. Those days were hard, but I knew you were feeling me out to see if I was really going to keep loving you no matter what. Guess what? I sure am!

Daddy's arrival was one of the best days of my life. After such an exhausting week, me being sick for a few days, and feeling the weight and responsibility of parenting on my shoulders and like I had no clue what i was doing, Daddy's presence was reassuring and refreshing. Plus he gave Auntie Jan a break from morning duty, and we all caught up on some sleep. He was so excited to see you, and you both were happy to see him. Big sis, you went to bed so pleased about the empty spot we had waiting for Daddy. When you woke up in the morning and saw him sitting by your bed, your eyes lit up! You were all bashful for a day or so, but it didn't take long until your playfulness came back full force. Auntie Jan and I were managing fine and were having many moments of joy with both of you girls and just experiencing Ethiopia, a country that we both love. But when Daddy came, I finally felt like we were a family and we weren't just going to survive, we were going to thrive and have a great time doing so!

Coming home with you was so exciting. Daddy and I could hardly believe it was really happening. Big sis, you were so pleased with your pink bed and monkey. I was amazed at how well you both did with all of the transitioning. The changes that you experienced were astronomical. I have to be honest, I have planned and dreamed and longed and waited for your arrival for years, and yet I think the adjustment thus far has been more difficult for me than you. The first days were so blurry. We were tired and just trying to get your basic needs met. Wake up, get dressed, eat, nap, eat, bathe, sleep, do it all over again. But now we are starting to find our rhythm. With Momma having some more sick days and Daddy having to jump back into long hours of harvest, we've had rough moments. But each day we start afresh and find God's grace is sustaining us and more than that, filling us with joy!

 I am falling more in love with both of you every day. Little sis, despite the fact that I'm giving you medicine 9 times a day (currently treating ear infection and giardia and trying to prevent more thrush) you are seeming to feel better. You're eating and sleeping good, finding more smiles and giggles, and your little birdie face is irresistible and frequently showered (smothered?) with kisses by all of us, sometimes you sis nearly suffocates you with her love. I feel myself melting more each day as I watch you laugh at my tickles, splash in the bath tub, cuddle with your pink sheep, clap your hands and grin, terrorize Ebby, and be generally adorable. I won't deny that you've given me doubts about ever having baby fever again, but I'm so thankful that you don't hold my clumsy, impatient, irritable moments against me. I love how we are learning to know each other and both liking what we see more each day.
Big sis, you are amazing. I have watched you go from expressionless, wordless, and practically motionless to smiling, laughing, talking non stop, and bouncing from room to room like Kanga. I have seen you face your fears head on. You went from shaking and crying in terror at the little monster dog that lives in this house, to happily playing together in a matter of a few days. You are almost brave enough to feed the giant dog by yourself. You not only held back the tears at the many pokes, prods, and tests at an all day Dr. visit, but you even pulled up your own sleeve for the needle. And lest we would forget that feat of bravery, you remind me countless times every day that "Sami cry Arsema no cry". We applaud your courage, child, but if you ever need to cry when the needles come out, we will be no less proud! Your vocabulary is exploding. Every day you add multiple words to your English collection, and are even starting to carry on imaginary conversations in mostly English. I love our advancing communication, but dread the day when your Amharic/Tigrinya is gone. You sing all the time. I love it all but the 5:30 am part. And you have rhythm (of course) and the ability to pick out different beats within a song so quickly. You recall countless names from Ethiopia throughout the day. You will say "Mommy blank...Ethiopia. Boy." Then you will either say "big" or "baby" to describe your friend's age. When playing memory, I was telling you that one of the animals was an octopus. You looked at me for a moment and then said "Octopus, November, December!" When Ebby has an accident on the floor (the strain of being dethroned seems to be effecting her bladder) you inform me multiple times "Ebby shint Arsema no shint". I'm having a hard time explaining to you that there was no question in my mind who the pee puddle came from. You are starting to use phrases, most of them sound strangely familiar. To your baby: "Baby bottle? Say 'bottle please'." And to Sami: "go to sleep, ok?" Yesterday you started saying "I love you" again. I don't know what it was the kept you from saying it for several weeks, possibly when you started to realize the meaning more it just wasn't comfortable yet. We were fine with waiting until you wanted to say it, and when you do it is music to our ears. Today you told Sami "I love you so so so much!". After I gave an emphatic lecture about how hot the stove was tonight, you went around saying "veddy veddy veddy hot!" You fold your clothes and make your bed very nicely, clean up the table when you're done eating, dance like it's your birthday when I tell you you can take a shower, go to great extremes to try to quiet Sami's crying, including screaming at the top of your lungs to get her attention, and throwing all your toys in her crib. The main thing you have had to be corrected for repeatedly and set in the "think about it" spot for is pushing buttons that should not be pushed. Printer, laptop, phones, radio, dryer, dishwasher, microwave, alarm clock, etc. You just can hardly resist a good button punch. Your sweetness is what melts me most. So many times a day I hear, "Aww, Mommy konjo! (Amharic for beautiful)." "Woo, soddy! (sorry)" "Thank you, Mommy!" "mmmm yummy!" To basically everything I give you, including your medicine.

I want to capture these moments in words, because I know so quickly this early stage is going to be over. And because it is so good to reflect on all of the beautiful moments you girls have brought into my life. Sometimes I get distracted with the hard. It's a struggle to give up my sleep, my time, my social life, my independence. My flesh wants the best of both words, wants the elusive greener grass, wants to fast forward the hard moments and disregard the grace to be seized even in the pain. I have had doubts that I am capable of being the mother than you need. I second guess myself constantly as I try to determine your needs and gauge your adjustments and attachment to us and try to balance responding to normal childhood behavior versus behaviors stemming from a hurting place. I've wondered if I'll ever get out again. I've murmered about biting off more than I can chew. I've worried that I will pour into one of you as your needs are made manifest, and miss the needs of the other whose cries for help may not be as obvious. And I've prayed every day for the Lord to fill me with the fruits of His Spirit and cover all of my mistakes with His grace and to knit us together with love that is unbreakable. But amidst all the fears, doubts, and concerns that Satan tosses into my mind, one thing remains steadfast. I KNOW that God brought you two into our family to be our daughters. I know it was His work and I know it was and is His plan for our family. I have and will continue to go back to that knowledge every time a fear surfaces, because that one thing has always remained sure in my heart. He wrote your story into our story. And what He does is always good. His plans are that of sustenance and prospering and blessing. He is a redeemer of lives, and just as He has redeemed us from a destiny of sure destruction and despair, He is working out a smaller-scale redemption story in you, buying you back from a life of sadness, grief, and loneliness. He is the one who does the healing and restoring, we are just instruments in His Kingdom plan. All of us broken, all of us gently being pieced back together by the Artist's hand.

Welcome home my loves.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Traveling, Bonding, Airport Parties, and Other Such Matters

So it’s official. The time has come for the final stage of this adoption process. My head is in no way comprehending what I am writing, but my body is going through the motions. Maybe it will sink in when I have 13 solid hours of plane ride to do nothing other than think about it. 

I am going to TRY to keep this short{ish} and to the point. I have plenty of other things I should be doing (although with having 5 whole days to get ready, I’m not sure what to do with all this time!) but I wanted to share some thoughts on what the next phase of our life may look like.
We will be leaving Sunday. Dave will hopefully be joining us a week or so later, and at this point our return date is Oct. 16th (actual arrival in Dayton will be the 17th.) This date is subject to change if our paperwork isn’t completed in time. 

I have debated long in my mind about having an airport party. There are obvious reservations: we are going to be in the thick of learning to know the girls and establishing trust, trying to keep the transitions as unintimidating as possible, and already know we will need to be sensitive to Cy’s shy personality. However, our close friends and family have been so instrumental in the journey. Your prayers, gifts, encouragement, and constant support are all a very real part of caring for the fatherless, and specifically Cypress and Sami. And we want you to celebrate with us what God has done through your willingness to serve Him by blessing us and the girls. You are a very real part of these girls coming home to our family. So how can we not have a celebration on the day this dream becomes a reality? Plus we will likely go into isolation mode at least for several weeks when we arrive home, so this will be a brief chance for you all to see the girls and for me to give you hugs (which I will try to soak up as much comfort and strength from as I can get) before we “cocoon” for a while. So, all this to say, to our close family and friends, we invite you to welcome us home at the Dayton airport on the 17th (unless notified of a date change). However I do have a few requests: Less noise/balloons/flashes/applause is better. It is a celebration, and we don’t want to take that away, but the girls’ well-being is our primary concern. Also, I know this is so brutal to ask of you, (and I would be the first one to fail in this if I were on the giving side) but please don’t touch/hug/kiss /hold the two lovelies. I seriously feel so guilty asking this of you, but it really is for their best. More on that in a bit. So feel free to come and hug us, say hi to the girls, and shower as much love as you can without touching :) 
Now to the game plan for once we are home. Most of you are familiar with the concept of taking time for attachment, and I’m so thankful for family and friends who desire to be informed and support us in a parenting style that will likely look different than most. Just to familiarize you a little more…we commonly use attachment/bonding interchangeably. Here is a quick differentiation between the two. Bonding: the love and warmth felt between a child and her parents. This sometimes happens immediately for the parents (as we feel it did for Dave and I) and sometimes can take weeks. Bonding is about sharing a loving relationship, and is very connected with physical touch. Attachment: learning to trust. It is the child learning to completely trust and have confidence in the parents meeting her needs and being a constant in her life. It is a more complex process and usually takes longer (months and sometimes years). For a better, more in depth look at bonding and attachment, please read this well written post about it.
So as we try to foster a loving, nurturing relationship with our girls and create an environment that helps them learn to trust Dave and I as their dependable parents who meet their needs, here are few things we hope to do:

  • ·         At least for the first 3 weeks, we will stick very close to home, limiting our outings to only necessities, and limiting our visitors to only immediate family. If you have a gift or food you would like to bring by, we would be so grateful, and I would be happy to meet you on the porch for a quick hug and a minute of adult conversation, but please don’t feel bad if I don’t invite you in or bring the girls out to meet you. In the time since they have lost their bio mother, they have had multiple care givers and people constantly coming and going in their lives. These first few weeks are critical for us to establish that we are their parents, that we will be the constant in their lives, and that we will meet their needs.

  • ·         To carry on with that thought, please don’t think I’m rude if I seem overly protective when we do start socializing. Dave or I want to be available to meet even their smallest needs for a long time, to help build their trust in us. So we will be the ones to give bottles, fill sippy cups, tie shoes, give snacks, change diapers, etc. And even once we start getting out, we will still limit the amount of holding we let others do. NOT because we do not trust you or do not want to share them (in fact, there may be days when I will need you to remind me of this post and encourage me in this!) we just want to be sure we are not confusing them or sending mixed signals. Much of this will depend on our assessment of their attachment to us after we’ve been home for a month or so. We will alter it as necessary.

  • ·         Our parenting may look strange. You may see us cosleeping, wearing Sami in a carrier a lot, disciplining in very gentle ways that offer many opportunities for re-do’s, rocking our 5 year old and giving her a bottle of milk, giving snacks anytime they’re asked for, having “time-ins” instead of “time-outs”, and who knows what all else we may come up with! Do not hesitate to ask us if you’re curious about what we’re doing. I don’t have time to explain all of these possible scenarios and the reasoning behind them now, but I will be happy to in the future. I would much rather have a discussion with you about why we chose to handle something the way we did, than to have you assuming we’re crazy parents! (And after the discussion you may still make that assumption! Honestly, this is new for us to, and much of it will be trial and error.)

If you would like to read more about attachment plans or cocooning, click here for another great post.
Please feel free to ask us questions, we do not have many answers, but we do have access to a lot of great resources and we can at least try to explain why we are choosing to implement certain standards for our girls’ first weeks and months home. Ultimately, this is going to be a moment by moment prayer for the Gentle Healer to give us wisdom and insight into how to best shepherd our girls’ hearts and be ministers of grace and healing to their lives. Thank you again so much for your wonderful support of us thus far. They are ALMOST HOME!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Treasurer's Report

The following is likely the worst treasurer’s report you will ever read. I am a terrible accountant. My theory: why balance the check book when I can just call the 1-800 number on my debit card and find out my balance in a matter of minutes? As for record keeping, I have a chaotic stack of adoption receipts that I occasionally shuffle through in a panic. Ususally the ones I need are lost, only to show up later in an unsorted stack of mail. I have certain areas of at least “maintained” organization, but personal record keeping is not one of them. I am not proud of this. Especially when it comes to adoption records. I regret my lack of order especially the first year of the adoption process. Next time I will be much more diligent. (And yes, I did just say next time, before this time is even finished. What can I say, the children’s searching, hopeful eyes haunt me.)

So, now that we are clear about my rather haphazard records, I will continue on with sharing what figures I do have. These posts are hard. Our culture’s privacy when it comes to finances makes it awkward to have this discussion. But openness is good. For various reasons. 1) I know when I was researching adoption, I was anxious to hear exactly what kind of “crazy expensive” figures we were looking at. Also I found it helpful to see many other families who did not have amazing jobs or a huge inheritance or substantial grants or a rich daddy, but were still stepping out trusting God to fund each step of the way. So to all of you out there praying about adoption :) here is an honest look at the $$. And if you would like to see our agency’s breakdown of the entire process and it’s costs, click HERE.  2) Openness is good for us because in a way it helps keep us accountable. 3) It provides opportunity for all of the generous givers to see more clearly where their money is going, and gives us opportunity to thank them for their open hands. 4) It gives a stellar opportunity for all of us together to lift our voices and our hands in praise to God, who is CLEARLY paying the way for His girls to come to their new home. Ultimately, this post is all about Him. We have small roles. Dave and I are accountable for seeking His wisdom in how to properly use the funding He has supplied, and you all are to be thanked for being willing to allow the finances to move from your hands to ours. But the bottom line is, it’s all His. And we are all just grateful observers of the transference of His resources on behalf of His children who He is placing in a family. If ever I doubted; doubted that it was His will for us to adopt, doubted that He really would fund the process, doubted that He really was passionate about lonely children being united with a loving family…the financial provision alone, especially in last 2 months, has been enough to convince me fully. Please remind me of this if I am every harried and at wits end with two little crazy cuties. I must not forget how specifically God worked to bring them home
So here are some details on our current financial status. We currently have around $7,500 in adoption debt. We have $9,600 in adoption savings. Before you lose all confidence in our accounting abilities, I offer two explanations. First, the savings figure has drastically increased in the last few weeks. We are humbled and amazed. (Side note to all who asked about the garage sale’s results: Total profit was around $840. We were wowed.) Secondly, our debt is on an interest free credit card. Because it is interest free for a year, we are not in a big hurry to pay it off since we are at least earning a few pennies in interest with the money in savings.

As for remaining costs. We basically just have our plane tickets and in-country costs. On our court trip we paid $2,300 for each ticket. We really hope with having more than 2 day’s notice, we will be able to get better prices on our next trip, but I don’t know how much difference it will make. The cheapest I expect they could be is $1,600-2,000. We will also have Cypress’s ticket home, which I expect will be around $1,000 but again is a guess. (Let me just say all of our remaining costs are guesses. I am sharing conservative estimates, but want to at least give you an idea.) The in-country costs look roughly like this: lodging-$500/week. We will potentially be there for 2-4 weeks (could be more, could be less). Food-$50/week. Driver-$50-$100/week depending on what rates we can get, where all we need to go, who else might be there to travel with us, etc. That gives you an idea of the basics. Please understand how hard this is to estimate. We are still comparing rates/amenities with several different guest houses so we do not have specific lodging plans yet.

 One final factor in this trip. One final IMPORTANT factor. My sister Janna will be accompanying me back. We will hopefully be leaving to go back in the next 2-3 weeks, and will stay with the girls until we have a confirmed embassy appointment, at which time Dave will join us and then we will all come home together. I am so excited to share this experience with Janna. I am jump-up-and-down delighted about it. I have prayed for an opportunity to have my family travel with me for almost as long as I’ve prayed for this adoption. I only wish I could take them all! So Janna will also be funding a ticket, and splitting the in-country costs with me. She’s stepping out on faith in regards to funding also, knowing that God has brought this opportunity to her life, and believing He will make a way regardless of her limited income. 

Now you basically know as much as we do in terms of what costs to expect in the coming month. To summarize:
Tickets: $2,000/adult $1,000/Cypress
Weekly in-country: $650 for the week(s) Jan and I are there with the girls. $1,200 the week Dave joins us for Embassy. (And no that is not because Dave will eat $600 worth of food, but rather because we will likely pay our agency an all-inclusive rate for the final week.)

Thank you all for journeying thus far with us. Words don’t seem to be enough, but hear it from the depths of my heart how grateful I am. We are. I cannot explain how humbling it is to…open the mail to find a check or an anonymous visa card, find cash in my purse or in our house, have meals stuck in my freezer, have my house cleaned from top to bottom, have my laundry folded,  read notes of encouragement on facebook, be thrown a superb baby shower filled with gifts and love from so many friends, be prayed for/with/over, and the list goes on.

 As always, this post is entirely too long. I hope that if you read this far, you came to the conclusion feeling blessed by God for being such a supportive part of our journey to bring our girls home. May your faith be encouraged by our story of God’s provision. He delights in giving good gifts to His children. I hope your eyes can see His goodness, and you can feel the warmth of His smile on your life. Run after Him with reckless abandon and trust Him to fill your life with His faithful provision.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Suggested Donation Items

For those of you who've asked, here is a more detailed list of suggested donation items that the Transition Home and orphanages need. We will be collecting some of these items to take with us when we go for court. To save on weight and price we would prefer to just take money for diapers and then buy them in Addis Ababa.
So here's the list:

Current Priority Transition Home Needs
o Clothing and shoes for children ages 8-14 ***HIGH PRIORITY
o Bath towels for children*** HIGH PRIORITY
o Antibacterial hand gel (40oz containers available at Wal-Mart for $5)
o Small sized diapers
o Baby bottles and nipples
o Vitamin D drops
o Unscented baby wipes ***please note, unscented/sensitive skin wipes are the only type used***
o Toothpaste and toothbrushes
o Scrubs for nurses and nannies
o Crocks for nurses and nannies
o General first aid items

Orphanage and Transitional Home General Donation Needs
o Powder-free gloves for nannies and TH doctor
o DVD and VHS children’s videos-especially Christian videos and/or ones with singing/dancing
o Crocs for nannies
o Toiletry bags (small) for children’s personal hygiene items (one per child needed)
o Puzzles for young children
o Toy cars and trucks appropriate for toddler aged children
o Iron drops
o Diaper rash ointment (A+D preferred)
o Paper towels
o Children’s clothing (new or slightly used); Boys and Girls; sizes 0-8 years. Clothing needs include day clothes (especially pants), pajamas, underwear, and shoes.
o Diapers for up to 30 pounds
o Toys to stimulate babies such as colorful objects, rattles, etc. that are appropriate for babies up to 2 years
o Unscented baby wipes ***please note, unscented/sensitive skin wipes are the only type used***
o Powder formula with DHA/RHA
o A + D Original Ointment, Diaper Rash and All-Purpose Skincare Formula
o Hand Sanitizer
o Candles
o Children’s Notebooks
o Enfamil or Similac Lactose free formula*
*the following Generic Brands with identical nutritional value to Enfamil & Similac are also acceptable:
1. Parents Choice formula from Wal-Mart
2. Target’s generic Formula
3. Kirkland formula from Costco
Soy based or other special formulas are also acceptable as long as they are one of the brands listed

Medications/Medical Donation Needs**
o Multivitamins

Tri-vi-sol (o to 6 months)
o Poly-vi-sol (6 months to 2 years)
o Chewable multi-vitamin (2 years to 9 years)
o Adult multivitamin (9 years plus)
o Tylenol (acetaminophen) Infants, Children's, Suppository
o Syringes for giving medicines (5mL)
o Plastic and Latex disposable gloves
o Baby nose saline spray
o Neosporin
o Mouth and nose masks
o Benadryl liquid/elixir
o Permetherin for scabies
o Lice kits
o Toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss
**Please check the expiration date on all donation items as expired items will be discarded upon
receipt and cannot be used.

On behalf of the all of the kiddos and the staff at the orphanages and Transition Home, thank you for your gifts and support!!