Monday, May 26, 2014

A Sister

It's a girl....and a boy! We are looking forward to welcoming our baby girl, Eliza, into the world in August! We are also looking forward to welcoming our little boy into our lives someday soon as well.

Because a six month difference is required between the time both children enter our home, we know that we cannot possibly receive a referral from Ethiopia until at least February 2015. Our baby girl will be here in 12 weeks! She will be six months old in February. 

Based on estimated wait times for our adoption, February would still be early for us to receive a referral for our son. By then, our paperwork will have been in Ethiopia for 15 months. We were given an estimation of 24-30 months once our paperwork arrived, but we know God is not restrained by time.  We also know that He could have a longer wait time in store for us. By February 2015, it will be two years since we began our adoption journey and since we began praying for our little boy. We will continue waiting and praying until God orchestrates the events that will allow us to bring him home.

As I stare at my ever-expanding belly, I can't help but think about our son. Because we have requested a boy between 0 and 3 years old, it is impossible to know many details at this point. Is someone else's belling growing with him right now too? Maybe. Has he already been born? Maybe. When we pray for him, are we really praying for a man and a woman who have not met yet? Maybe. As I feel baby girl's little kicks, I can't help but wonder: Will she have a protective older brother? Or will she be a loving big sister? Will our children end up being in the same grade?

We are looking forward to the day when these questions will be answered, as we know that God already has it prepared for us. We absolutely cannot wait to see how He works it all out! We thank Him for these blessings, and we continue to pray for our son and our daughter.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Happy Anniversary

It has been 1 year since Marcus and I signed our contract with the Ethiopian adoption program and mailed our first payment to our agency. At that time (and still now, at times), I was convinced that we were a little crazy. We did not have money in the bank to fund this adoption....who am I kidding, we didn't even have a house of our own! We had been married for 1 year and 9 months, and we had moved to a new city only 6 months before. Yet, we still felt like God was telling us that it was the right time to start our adoption journey. We still firmly believe that God has laid adoption on our hearts. 

Throughout the last year, we have seen God do some amazing things. We were able to purchased a house. By God's grace, we have had enough money in the bank to make every single adoption payment. We made it through the mountain of paperwork and home study visits, even while moving into a new home. During this last year, our Dossier made it across the ocean and into the hands of coordinators IN Ethiopia, putting us on the official waiting list! (We have now been officially waiting for 113 days!) We prayed fervently for months when Ethiopia threatened to shut down international adoption, and we rejoiced when the country decided to remain open to international adoption. We have seen hundreds of people rally around us with support and prayer. (Thank you so much. It means more than you will ever know.) So many others have decided to encourage us or share personal stories about how adoption has impacted their lives. In the last year, we have prayed for and fallen in love with a little boy that we have never met, never seen...who may not even be born yet! We have also fallen more in love with our Savior as we have seen and experienced the parallel between earthly adoption and heavenly adoption.

Throughout everything, we never doubted God, but we also know that we don't deserve everything that He has poured out on us over the last year, and we are truly grateful. This last year has not been easy, but it has been worth it. During the last year, our Faith and Trust has grown immensely as we continue to realize that nothing, including this adoption, is within our control. All we can do is give it to God and know that He will bring our son home in His perfect timing, if it is His will. We know that, no matter what, this journey has already been amazing, and it is one that we were meant to take. Here we are, 1 year later, with another baby on the way, and we are still so sure that this is how God has led us to build our family. We know we have many months left in this journey, but we cannot wait to see how He leads and provides in this next year. Maybe this will be the year that we will meet our son!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Waiting X 2

The day our paperwork arrived in Ethiopia was the day that Marcus and I found out that we were expecting ANOTHER child! We will pick up one child from Ethiopia (at a date still to be determined), and another child will join us along that grand adventure. Yes, we're adopting....and I'm pregnant! Our expected due date is August 19, 2014.

We are beyond excited to grow our family in both of these ways, as both have always been on our hearts. We are so thankful for God's blessings upon our family. Our latest blessing will change nothing about our adoption process. We will just have to update some of our paperwork over the next several months. (I never thought that I would be so excited to do MORE paperwork!) Our agency supports concurrent family building, and our social worker has given us approval for 2 children. We will continue to wait as normal for the referral of our son.

Ethiopia only requires a 6 month difference between the time children enter your home, but not in their ages. (I can't wait to find out how close these two little ones are in age!) Based on the estimated wait time for our adoption, 24 to 30 months, we will have no issues with Ethiopia's requirement. If the adoption process goes faster than originally anticipated, our waiting phase would be put on pause before receiving a referral for a child. It would resume, though, as soon as our baby turns 6 months old, and we would be eligible for a referral again.

We are now counting down the days until we can bring BOTH of our children home. Which of our children will be our oldest? Marcus and I cannot wait to see how God weaves our family together.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Eagle Has Landed

I thought about naming this post "The Blue-Winged Goose has Landed" (appearantly this is a bird common in Ethiopia, according to my google search), but I was afraid the excitement might get lost in translation. Our Dossier arrived in Ethiopia on Wednesday! It will now be translated and will remain there until we receive a referral for a child. We will soon have a family coordinator who is our contact person in Ethiopia!

To celebrate the fact that months of paperwork was out of our house and our hands, we went to The Blue Nile Ethiopian Cafe in Kansas City. We had such a great time experiencing a small taste of Ethiopian culture with some of our friends. It was also neat to talk a little bit with the owner of the cafe, who is from Addis. We will definitely be going back there. If you have not tried Ethiopian food, we highly recommend it! (Be prepared to eat WITHOUT utinsels!)

Now that everything has arrived in Ethiopia, we get to WAIT. Let the countdown begin...or should I say count UP...since we really don't have a "due date." Because of Thanksgiving, our Dossier was not able to be mailed to Ethiopia until 12/6/13. Our agency has been gracious enough to count our official start date as 11/29/13 though. (We sort of got to cut in line a tiny bit!) This is the date that we have started counting up from.

We have now been officially waiting for 17 days to be matched with a little boy between 0 and 3 years old. The estimated wait time that we have received from our agency is around 24-30 months. It seems like such a long time to wait to meet our son, but the older I get, the faster time seems to fly. Lately, the weeks seem to be passing like days. (So in that case, it's only an estimated 130 "days" to wait- I like the sound of that much better.) We know that God could choose to bring him home sooner (or even later) than this estimated time frame though, and we trust that His timing is perfect.

While we're waiting, we're continuing to pray.

We are praying for our son. Most likely, he has already been born, and he is living somewhere in the country of Ethiopia. We pray that he is being loved and cared for, despite any tragic circumstances that will ultimately bring him to us. Marcus and I are praying for the family that might have a difficult decision to make in regards to his life, and we are thankful for them. We are praying for our son's health and safety. 

We are also praying for the country of Ethiopia. We know that when dealing with governments, especially foreign governments, nothing is ever guaranteed. We are praying that the government remains stable there and that the adoption partnership between Ethiopia and the US continues to remain in good standing. Marcus and I hope and pray that the new adoption requirement (the PAIR Process) leads to more ethical adoptions in Ethiopia.

For now, we wait...and we're really excited about it. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On Your Mark...Get Set...

Isn't this the most beautiful stack of papers you have ever seen!?

After months and months of paperwork and unofficial waiting, we can finally say that we are ALMOST on that real waiting list! I know, it seems anticlimactic, right? But today we reached an important step in our process! 

Today we carefully followed the 50 step (that's only a tiny exaggeration), partially bolded, multi-bulleted, sometimes italics and underlined, outline to ensure that we got our dossier in the correct order with the correct items bundled together. Today we carefully made 2 copies of all 40 official documents that have taken us almost 6 months to compile. Today we carefully wrote a check that drained our accounts for the 3rd time this year as we continued to remember God's gracious provision throughout this entire process. Today we prayed over a stack of papers that represent so much more to us. It may have taken us a little longer than expected to get to this point (due to the government shutdown and various other circumstances), but we know that each setback and delay is part of God's perfect timing. Today, we cannot contain our excitement!

Everything is now packaged up and ready to be mailed to McLean, Virginia tomorrow! Once it arrives there, it will be checked and rechecked by our agency for accuracy (as if my OCD tendencies haven't forced me to check it enough already)! It will then be taken to the State Department and Ethiopian Embassy for additional authentication. (Yep, all of our stuff will be EXTRA authentic since original copies and notarizations are not quite enough!)

Then...drumroll please...within 1 to 3 weeks, it will finally venture across the sea to Ethiopia! Once it is processed in Addis, we will be officially waiting! (Cue girly squeal and giggles.) Little by little, our wait will actually begin getting us somewhere! We've never been so excited to wait in our entire lives. It's like we are finally tall enough to ride the biggest, baddest roller coaster, and now all we have to do is wait in line...for many, many, many months!

Stay tuned: the next update will mean that our wait is OFFICIAL! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Happy New Year!

Since 2001, September 11 always stirs up feelings of remembrance, honor, and patriotism inside of me. This year, though, it also stired up feelings of celebration, hope, dreams, and longing. September 11 marks Ethiopia's New Year (Enkutatash).

Ethiopia still follows the Orthodox Julian calendar which consists of 12 months of 30 days and a 13th month, Pagume, of five or six days (depending on whether or not it is a leap year.) The Ethiopian calendar is seven years and eight months behind our calendar, so September 11, 2013 is Meskerem 1, 2006 in Ethiopia.

History of the Ethiopian New Year:
When Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, returned to Ethiopia after her famous visit to King Solomon (1 Kings 10), her chiefs welcomed her forward by giving her "enku" or jewels. Enkutatash which means "gift of jewels"' has been celebrated ever since during spring in Ethiopia. Enkutatash is an important festival in the lives of Ethiopians. After three months of heavy rains the sun comes out creating a beautiful, clear, fresh atmosphere. The fields turn to gold as yellow daisies burst into bloom. Meskerem is seen as a month of transition from the old year to the new. It is a time to express hopes and dreams for the future. 

Marcus and I decided to celebrate the Ethiopian New Year last night. Our hearts are currently in Ethiopia, so we both feel a little bit Ethiopian. Because Enkutatash is important to Ethiopian culture, we want it to be important to our family too. As Marcus and I expressed our hopes and dreams for the future, we smiled, laughed, cried, and prayed over bringing our son home. We are looking forward to celebrating this day with him someday.

In honor of Enkutatash, my sweet husband brightened my day with yellow daisies. (All he could find were Gerber Daisies, but those are my favorite anyway!) Traditionally yellow daisies (or drawings of them) are given by children to friends, family, and neighbors in exchange for money or bread. I didn't give Marcus money...but we did try our hand at making some Ethiopian bread. I was planning on making Defo Dabo, which is traditionally eaten and shared during the New Year. As I was looking up recipes though, Yemarina Yewotet Dabo (Ethiopian Spiced Honey Bread) sounded so delicious that I had to try it instead! It is also a traditional bread enjoyed in Ethiopia that makes use of the country's abundant supply of honey. We enjoyed it last night with some hot tea, which was actually from Peru...maybe next year we will get some Ethiopian coffee! It was lovely. I definitely reccomend this recipe!

As we look to the "new year," we continue to pray for our son and this process. Our paperwork will arrive in Ethiopia during this new year, and we hope and pray that we are matched and processed quickly. Until then, our hearts will remain in Ethiopia. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waiting (Unofficially)

There is now absolutely nothing left for us to do as far as our adoption process goes. Our paperwork is done. Our home study is complete. Our new house has been visited. (We are all settled in, and we LOVE being real Kansas Citians now!) We are now waiting on one more little piece of paper to arrive in the mail so we can send everything off to Ethiopia. Unfortunately, it could take up to a couple more months to show up. (We are praying that it comes quickly though!) After that, we will be officially waiting. We will be on THE LIST to be matched with a child. It is humbling to know that we cannot do anything to make this process go any faster. We have no control...but then again, did we ever?

God has shown us our lack of control over and over again throughout our "paper chasing" process. Adoption paperwork is hard to complete and compile anyway, but we always seemed to find a way to make it just a little bit harder. I smile now as I write this, but I can assure you that there were times that I did not feel like smiling! Between forms being lost in the mail, accounting errors on taxes, police reports ran on the wrong Kayla Mackey, and having to have several forms re-notarized (side note: I'm thoroughly convinced that almost every notary's commission expires in the fall of 2013...which is a problem when your agency requires the notary to be good through the time your paperwork arrives in Ethiopia!), God has shown us that we have to rely on Him and his timing. He repeatedly worked it all out for us in His own time, no matter how many tears I cried or moments I wanted to pull my hair out. We know that God's timing is perfect, and we cannot wait to see when He decides to bring our little boy home.

It has been amazing to see God's hand throughout our journey so far. We were praying crazy prayers about finances and houses, and God has provided over and over again. Thank you to everyone who has allowed God to work through you during this process. We will continue to pray big, crazy prayers about finances, a quick match, and a speedy trip to bring our son home. Will you pray with us as we wait?

P.S. We love seeing everyone in their t-shirts! It makes our hearts happy.