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.

10/21/09 - Care Package (and a few other things) Shopping

We are able to send care packages to the boys in Ethiopia through the generosity of those traveling before us. A sweet friend Meg on my Yahoo Group answered my question, which asked if anyone traveling had room to take care packages with a "Why yes I do ... for two little boys!"
We went shopping the night after the referral to find little treasures to tuck each each of the boys' gallon zip lock care packages:
So each of the boys will get a soccer shirt, two cars, a magnifying glass, a little notebook and crayons, really cool hologram animal stickers, and a photo album (that's the white, blank looking thing! It's awaiting pictures).

We also found a few other things:

Gotta love the Dollar Store! These will fit so well with the castle play set in the back yard - and of course there are two sets!!
And these shirts were too cute, and completely seem appropriate if you've seen Younger Brother's smile!
And I wanted matching pajamas for the boys. I remember my Mom dressing my brother and I in matching Winnie the Pooh pajamas from Sears when we were little and as an adult I think we looked adorable! Those are footballs on these matching pajamas.
And if you're wondering, a new bedspread that will be much more boyish is on the way!

10/20/09 - The Stork Has Landed!!!

We are beyond excited to announce that we are the very proud and blessed parents of two beautiful little boys!

I (Amy) received the call at work Tuesday morning. Since Mike had worked the night before, he did not wake up when the phone rang at home. We had already agreed that we wanted to hear the news together, so my work graciously sent another teacher into my room so I could go home and wake Mike up! It was the longest car ride home ever but I drove the speed limit because I didn't want to get a ticket on the way home to hear referral information!!! Mike heard me come in the door and thought, "The phone rang awhile ago, and now I hear the front door opening, maybe I should get up and make sure everything is okay." After telling me this, I just smiled and said, "It's Referral Day!"

We went downstairs and called back Nicole, our Family Coordinator at our international adoption agency, - and she was on lunch!! I then called the 800 number to ask if they could search the office for her. After waiting about 5 minutes, the wonderful receptionist came back on to say she couldn't find Nicole anywhere! So we thanked her and I started cleaning the house as I knew people would be coming over that evening!!! We only had to wait about 15 minutes, the phone rang, the caller ID said America World, and we heard the wonderful words, "We have two little boys for you!"

We are not allowed to post their pictures, ages, or personal information until after they legally become ours, but I can tell you John Michael E*** and Ryan Elijah E***** are healthy and loved!

Please join us in praising God - these are the children He had chosen to entrust to us since before the beginning of time!!

1. Sign our referral acceptance letter and return it to our agency America World. Once they receive it, they can petition the courts in Ethiopia for a court date.
2. Approximately 3 weeks from now, we should find out when our court date will be. We are GUESSING end of December or beginning of January. A week or so after finding out our court date, we will be issued tentative travel dates.
3. Once we pass court, we would travel 2-3 weeks after to bring the boys home! 40% of families do not pass court the first time for a variety of reasons (the judge decided not to come in that day, loss of electricity, something is not in order with our paperwork or the orphanage's paperwork, a birth family relative is not able to arrive on that day, and many, many other reasons). If our first court date is not successful, our agency would work to fix whatever needs fixing, and then we would be assigned another court date. That new date could be a few days or weeks later.

While all this is going on, our home study age range is being updated from 0-3 years old to 0-6 years old. We began this process in September and right now are waiting for approval from Illinois DCFS Inter Country Coordinator. Once we have that approval, our wonderful social worker Faith will forward the information to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). USCIS will then approve it - hopefully the first time! - and the information will be forwarded to Ethiopia. Ethiopia must have the correct information before we can travel to get the boys. At this point we are not worried about the time frame for all of this, and we are praying for that feeling to continue!!

PRAISE AND PRAYER: We are beyond blessed to not only receive a referral for two healthy, handsome boys, but to have received it so much earlier than we thought we would (we were thinking February) and to have so, so, so many family members and friends just as excited as we are!!! Please pray for our boys in Ethiopia - that they would feel safe, that they would be loved, and that they would continue to be healthy and gain weight. Please pray also that the updating of our home study would be a smooth and quick process!!