Care Package Updates

Now that we have passed court and the boys are legally ours, we are so excited to be able to share all the pictures taken for us by families delivering our care packages!!

Care Package 1 - Thank you Sabini Family!!

"The attached pictures are of Ephrem, Eyob was away from the TH at a routine medical appointment. I asked twice if he returned and they took his care package to give to him later.
Ephrem is a sweet little boy. He looks a bit worried in your photos because he was just presented to us by his nanny--she had to return to her other I am sorry to get such a worried little face on your photo. He walks well; he is alert and obviously knows strangers from his nanny. He
cries appropriately. He seems to hear acutely. He got a little scared when we opened the care I just decided to love on him and prayed over him. I brought him back to his little play group and then he wouldn't leave me...he just stood with me...I assured him you were coming soon and showered him with kisses and hugs. He is a sweetie and will be incredibly blessed to be in the arms of his mother and father--forever!!!"

Care Package 2 - Thank You Butler Family!!
"Your two boys were soooo sweet. They couldn’t wait to get into their snack bags. We had a hard time explaining to them that they could only eat one at a time. They wanted everything opened so they could try everything. We also found that the small toy dinosaurs you sent seemed to scare them a little so we left them in a small bag for later. Hopefully they warm up soon."

Care Package 3 - Thank You Roach Family!!

"Your boys are just the sweetest little guys!! Can't remember which one is which but the little one is definitely the more reserved little guy and just taking things in. The older one is just the best big brother! He seems to be protective and nurturing with his little brother. They are really adorable. By the way, just my opinion, but I think your little guys favor you both!"

12/30/09 - So What Happens Next?

After wishing us congratulations, everyone has either asked this question or thought it: "So, what happens next?" And the simple answer ... we keep waiting!

We are now into the phase of waiting for tentative travel dates. Our international agency America World will email us with tentative travel dates probably next week, but they will not be concreate until all necessary paperwork is complete.

Paperwork still needing to be completed/approved:
* Our new fingerprints (taken today as the old ones expire January 15)
* Our home study update which increased our age range (begun in September and received by USCIS December 2nd)
* A new home study update because Mike has a different job (just when we thought life couldn't get any crazier!)

PRAISE: We continue to praise God for the wonderful gift of the boys and are sooooo excited for them to begin life here! And we praise God because they are coming home!!!

PRAYER: We need HUGE prayer for speed and efficiency in getting all our paperwork done and approved and to the correct offices - "Savior He can move the mountains" and we have a few mountains to move over the month of January!!

12/15/09 - Still Waiting

We received another call from Nicole saying it could be another two weeks before the number is corrected and we officially pass court but that they (America World) are being persistent in dealing with the orphanage to get the number changed!

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. - Psalm 27:14

Mom and Dad's Dresser Drawers

We have had a nine dresser drawer in our playing growing up ever since I was a little girl. Many, many, many years ago, my Dad painted it and stenciled our three kids names on it. Since then spouses have been added and then grandchildren. After we received our referral in October, I thought, now two new names can go on the dresser. They were there about two weeks until I noticed them!!

(us: Amy and Mike and John and Ryan, my brother Donny and his two girls Samantha and Maddy, and my sister Sarah and her husband Ken)

The Waiting Place

"You get so confused that you'll start in to race, down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace, and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place. The Waiting Place...for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting." Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Nicole, our Family Coordinator from America World, called Friday to say there was no new news in regard to our court case. We totally appreciated the call but find ourselves in a not so fun waiting place:

* for the number to be changed on the piece of paper that will allow us to pass court and the boys to be legally ours which will lead to tentative travel dates
* a new I171-H form which would mean our age range increase has been approved - this will lead to waiting for the form to be forwarded to the National Visa Center which will lead to waiting for the information to be forwarded to the Ethiopian Embassy in Addis Ababa which will lead to concrete travel dates

Add this to the uncertainty of life and international adoption, and we are working hard to stay joyful!

I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. Isaiah 8:17-18

The Boys Christmas Tree

We enjoyed decorating the boys Christmas tree last week. We set aside all the fun, kid like ornaments to use for their tree. And we talked about how next year there would be two little boys putting the ornaments on and how they would probably all be in one spot!!

We love the angel we found at Hobby Lobby last year (which was 50% off!):

This ornament we bought in Galena before we had even attended the America World seminar and knew anything about adopting from Ethiopia! We also didn't even notice the color of Mary, Joseph, and the angel. Can you say total God thing!!

Amy's favorite book is Where the Wild Things Are and this was a gift last year:

Amy had this Fisher Price toy when she was little. And the door on the ornament moos just like the toy:

Mike contributed this ornament to the tree, from the classic Grinch movie, his heart is a hologram that grows:

A gift from one of Amy's college friends, who doesn't love the Cat in the Hat:

Every child's favorite book and always the most popular checked out book at the library:

Can't wait until the boys are familiar with all these stories and toys!!

New Staff at the Transition House

Our boys are presently living at the Transition House run by our international agency America World. America World has recently added some new staff to the facility and we feel SO BLESSED and EXCITED by the additions! Click on the link after each to learn more from our agencies blog!
A Peditrician
A Child Developemental Psycologist to help children with the transition into new families
A Teacher to work with children ages 3 and up

12/10/09 - Care Package Updates

So the 100th post is about loving on the boys - awesome!

We received pictures and personal observations from the first care package arriving. They were FANTASTIC!!! They were only about Ryan as John was out at a doctor's appointment, but we're soooo grateful to have them. They family traveling and thus bringing our care packages to the boys observed several things about Ryan: he runs and walks normally, cries appropriately, seems to hear normally, and knows the difference between strangers and his nanny/care giver (that alone is great as it shows he has the ability to bond!). We got some pictures of our little guy but he was very wary of the whole process which is understandable! He was loved on and prayed over which comforts this Mommy's heart. And to look at a picture of a package that I wrote Ryan's name on and see my handwriting and know it's in Ethiopia with our son - WOW!!

The second care package should have been given to the boys this week so we should hear how that went/get pictures next week or the week after. Again, we are so grateful to a family from Oklahoma for loving on our boys!!

Our third care package arrived in Ohio today and will be leaving with a family heading to Ethiopia on December 19th! Included were a photo album containing number, color, and shape pictures of items around the house as well as pictures showing how to play the bowling and golf game included, a bag of gummy bears, 2 Fruit by the Foots, a bus and truck board book with wheels, parachute animals, windup walking plastic snowmen, and two pairs of fun fuzzy slipper socks. The ice cream bubbles pictured didn't fit. Gotta love Dollar Tree and the dollar section at Super Walmart. I hope the boys do!!

12/02/09 - Court

Well the good news is we didn't fail court!! The not as good news is that we didn't quite pass either!

Paperwork was presented to the judge which listed six children's cases. In reality, there were nine children's cases being presented to her. So the number needs to be switched on the paperwork. The judge didn't even reschedule another court date (which is great!), so that means as soon as the number gets changed and she receives the corrected paper, the boys should legally be ours! Our agency thinks this will happen next week... so we wait a little longer!

PRAISE: Praise God we didn't fail!! Or weren't assigned another court date a month from now!! And that everything on our end looked good!!

PRAYER: Please pray for speed and efficiency in correcting the paperwork error. Please pray for enough daily grace for us as we wait just a little longer. Also please pray for federal (USCIS) approval of our increased age range paperwork. We are expecting/hoping to receive our updated form (I171-H) in the mail next week or the week after.

12/01/09 - My Verses for Today

While we are sleeping tonight, courts will open in Ethiopia. A judge will look at our case and decide if everything is in order. We will either pass and the boys will legally become ours or we will not pass, our agency will fix what ever did not go well, and we will be assigned another court date.

"Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." Hebrews 12:2

11/25/09 - November Update

Each month, until we pass court, our agency will send us updates about the boys: general health updates, eating/health issues, development/physical assessments, personality notes, answers to our five questions, and best of all, NEW PICTURES!

I am able to share some of the details:

* Both boys have gained weight and our youngest, Ryan, has gained five pounds - praise God!

* Ryan is getting over the chicken pox - our poor baby!

* Both boys like eating pasta, macaroni, rice, injera (Ethiopian flat, circular bread, looks like a giant tortilla, meats/soups are served on it), bread, vegetables, meat, eggs, and fruit - hopefully they will like all these things American style!

* Both are running, jumping, and hopping. They also sing the ABCs after the nannies!

* We are told John likes to play with cars (yeah, as friends are giving us their two sons' matchbox car collection after we get home!) and Ryan likes children's music (not a problem! We have lots of CDs and musical instruments, including a piano!).

We learned their reaction to learning about us: "We [the nannies at the Transition House where the boys are in Addis Ababa] think they understand being adopted because they have seen their friends leaving with their adoptive families and when one of the nannies explained this in their language [John] smiled! (We so hope they were smiling when they saw pictures of us in their care packages!!!) We also learned that they speak Welayta, a language common to southern Ethiopia, and can understand some common Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, words.

We didn't expect the update to come until next Monday, the last day of the month! What a TREMENDOUS BLESSING it was to receive it today!!!!

Hidden Surprises

We recently traveled to Ohio for the weekend to visit friends. Amy's Mom took care of our cat Scout while we were gone. When I (Amy) went to sort through the mail on the kitchen table Monday night after returning home, this was peeking over the bread maker at me!
We didn't find this one until Tuesday morning. It was on top of the entertainment center and kind of blended in with some Thanksgiving decorations.

Overwhelmed by Others' Generousity

While this heading could describe our whole adoption experience, we have recently been blessed with many items from friends.

Clothes, clothes, and more clothes! Mike and I had a BLAST looking through everything and sorting it all by size to put in drawers. If these all fit, Ryan should be set for winter! And there are enough pajamas for John too! Thanks Tracy and Kathy!!!
These items traveled back with us from Ohio where some friends of ours live. In addition to these fun toys are a toilet seat, bike carrier which attaches to one of our bikes (Mike has so wanted one!), and a wooden chair which will go with an old fashioned desk we have. Thanks Brad, Jenny, Jordyn, Josie, and Brock!!

Mike had a little free time one day:

In addition, a bag of 4T shirts, pants, socks, and shoes showed up on our porch step this week. Not sure who they are from (if someone told me they were going to bring them by, sorry, I can't remember!)

Finally, a friend had a new furnace put in last week and used the company we have used in the past and recommended to her, JM Heating here in Grayslake. She said we might receive a financial gift as a thank you from them. The company did a check of our address to verify that we were still here and were led by their search to this blog. So not only did we receive a check for $50 but also a beautiful note and congratulations gift, a complimentary furnace tune up so our furnace will be "in tip top shape for [our] sons' arrival." This brought tears to my eyes!!

We are blown away by the kindness of others and so humbled by their love for us. We have so, so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!!!

11/21/09 - We mail our second care package

Our second care package was mailed to Oklahoma today! Another family traveling to get their child, leaving on December 6th, will be bringing some more love to our boys! This time the boys are receiving an ABC photo book (a different picture on each page with the word in English, and Amharic and sign language if we could find them), shirts, small plastic dinosaurs, bouncy balls, and granola bars and licorice. We also included a card that we recorded our voices on! So the boys will hear us saying their names, telling them we love them, and that we will be coming for them soon!!Our first care package will be delivered to the boys sometimes (I think) Tuesday, November 24th!! As we are sleeping Monday night, the boys will be seeing our faces for the first time!!!

Interesting Questions and Comments

So we have fully been preparing for interesting questions and comments about our family when we return from Ethiopia, but I didn't expect them to start before the boys were even here! Here are some things we've been met with so far when strangers find out we are adopting two little boys from Ethiopia.

Comment: "Oh, isn't there AIDS there?"
(my first thought: Wow, that's an interesting first comment!)
My Answer: Actually there's AIDS throughout the world, so yes there's AIDS there. And a person who is HIV positive and is actually able to live a wonderful life! (Thanks Yahoo Group!)

Comment: "There's tons of kids here to adopt, why are you going half way around the world?" (and usually not said in a pleasant tone.)
(my first thought: Well, let me just tell you some of the pain we experienced when we tried that!)
My Answer: We tried that before and it wasn't successful.

Comment: "So you can't have children?"
(my first thought: Well that's none of your business!)
My Answer: Actually, this is God's plan for me.

Comment: "So it's kind of like buying a kid, isn't it?"
(my first thought: Ah, no!)
My Answer: No, you're not buying a child. You are paying the legal, international, and program fees.

But with these few comments from strangers have been HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of comments - from people who have never met us before - of genuine excitement, joy, congratulations, and encouragement.

And it's good practice before the boys are here at praying and answering in a calm manner and voice when these crazy questions and comments come!

11/12/09 - We have a court date!!!!

An email arrived today telling us that we have a court date on December 2nd!!!!!

Mike was actually checking email when I walked in to the room to talk to him. I was looking over his shoulder at the in box as he was talking and saw a message from Anna Graham, from America World our international agency, with the subject "Court Date." I leaned over Mike, opened the email, scanned down to find December 2 in bold and italicized, and screamed right in Mike's ear!! All the while he is saying who's this? what's going on? when's our court date? Then I did a happy dance, looked at the calendar and realized December 2 is only two and a half weeks away!!! WOW!!!

PRAISE: Please join us in praising God for how quick this part of the adoption is going! While we thought we would know by the end of the month when our court date was and had hoped and prayed it would be in December, we never dreamed we would know this soon or that court would be in early December!

PRAYER: Our paperwork - our home study update (we increased our age range) must be approved by IL DCFS, then sent to federal USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), which must also approve it and send the updates information to NVC (National Visa Center) which must send the corrected information to the Ethiopian Embassy in Addis Ababa. If that all sounds confusing, it is! And it has not been an easy process for anyone in our Yahoo Group who has gone through it. But without the paperwork in Ethiopia, we can't book a flight and travel. So if you will simply pray for "everything adoption" we'd be grateful!!!!!!

God already knows when our successful court date will be, when our updated paperwork will arrive in Ethiopia, and we will will travel to bring the boys home. The K-Love verse this morning says it all - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 That's what we plan on doing over the next two months!!!

10/31/09 - Halloween Pumpkin

I got this idea from a fellow Yahoo Group member's pumpkin last year - pretty cool:

10/28/09 - The New Bedspread Arrives!

A surprise came in the mail today - the boys' bedspread! This is the perfect bedspread as it contains the three favorite sports of our family: baseball (Amy), football (Mike), and soccer (everyone in Ethiopia!).

It is a beautiful quilt and reminds me of something my Aunt Mary would have made. Can't wait to tuck two little boys in at night!!!

10/23/09 - Accepting Our Referral

Can you guess whose pictures are in the picture frame on the table as we are signing the referral acceptance letter!? We visited FedEX right after this and our letter should arrive at America World's, our international agency, main office by Tuesday. Then sometime next week, someone in Ethiopia will be telling our two little boys about their Forever Mommy and Forever Daddy here in the United States.