Underground church in Lalibela Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and is a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. Lalibela was intended to be a New Jerusalem in response to the capture of Jerusalem by Muslims, and many of its historic buildings take their name and layout from buildings in Jerusalem.
Emnat na Mihret Amharic for “Faith and Mercy”
I thought it would be fun to post a few words/phrases in the language spoken in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, where Hannah's Hope Orphanage is. I chose "emnat na mihret" today because what could describe our needs and the needs of our daughter anymore than these two words. Faith and mercy for the journey still ahead of us all to become the family that God has ordained. Faith and mercy for all of the orphans still waiting for someone to claim them as their own. And it is by faith and with God's mercy that we have made it this far! All we have left are a few months and a few trips to the other side of the globe and back :) Emnat ne mihret, Father! Emnat na mihret!
We received our first trip court dates. As I posted earlier, we won't be traveling until after the courts re-open in October. But, we were so happy to get a call from Julie, our case worker, on Thursday. She said she was very surprised that they were already handing out dates for October. Our daughter's birth-mother has to appear in court first, on Oct. 6th. We then travel for our court appearance on Oct. 18th. If all goes well, the sometime shortly after that (a week?) she will be officially ours! We, of course, will already be back in Tennessee and waiting to hear about her US Embassy appointment. When we receive that then we will travel back to get her and bring her home, approximately 6-8 weeks after the first trip. Let's pray for 6 weeks, or what about 4-5 weeks? Since we're asking, let's think big!!
I am very relieved just to know WHEN we are going to meet her for the first time, to see her smile, to hold her, kiss on her and to snuggle with her. I pray that she has an easy time with all of the adjustments; spending time with us and then seeing us leave her for those weeks, before returning to bring her home. So, if you are praying, please pray that her birth-mother is able to make it to her appointment (sometimes they are not able) and that all of her paperwork is there. If one of those things doesn't happen, then we don't "pass" and they have to reschedule that part of the proceedings. It will not effect our first trip, however, we will still finish our portion of the proceedings and when everything is done, then the judge makes his ruling to declare her legally adopted. Then, pray for a quick embassy appointment, so that we can get back there as soon as possible to bring her home. We will be praying to bring her home the end of November, but possibly as late as mid-December.
Emnat na mihret to you all! Whateveryour journey is; enjoy just "doing it" with Jesus!
Well, as fast as we moved to get our paperwork and as hard as our agency works, it looks like Ethiopian courts are closing soon for the summer. The Ethiopian staff at our agency got word yesterday that there will be no more appointments given until they open again sometime in October. I physically felt sick when I heard this. We, along with a few other families, just missed this cut-off by 10 or so days. That means there are families that got their referrals just 10 or so days before us and have appointments the last week they are open.
I was just enjoying my referral "high" so much I hadn't really thought much about this. It kind of hit me hard. I was mentally prepared for this possibility, but really hoping for a miracle. What does this mean? Even though we received our referral July 6th, we won't be making our first trip any sooner than October. And second trip November or December. That means a probable 5 month wait to bring our baby home. This feels especially "wrong" because she is so tiny and has so much growth to make up. I want to get her here and into MY arms. I want to monitor her progress and not have to wait for emails. That's very hard. I know she is being very well taken care of, but there is no care like "mommy-care".
It's hard not to feel a little bummed. After almost 10 months of waiting for a referral, when we expected 8 at the most, and then just missing the one trip plan by 2 months, which adds another month at least, and now just barely missing court closures, I can't help but feel a little short-changed! We seem to be (pardon the cheesy quote) "a day late and a dollar short". Not at all the outcome I was hoping for. And everyday that I don't get to hold my baby girl, I am very aware of her absence in my arms. It makes it all that much harder for me knowing that she has already been at the orphanage for three months! She didn't just arrive and then get a referral. So, she will spend the first eight months there. It just seems wrong, somehow. We know all of these things are part of the process, but it just still feels so wasteful. She's there....we are here.
There are things that I know to be true, though. There will be an "END" to this journey. I am just ready to get there! God loves our daughter more than we do and He won't let her down. For all of the milestones that we will miss over these next months, He will give back to us in joy, I know. He will comfort her for us. And us, too.
Good news! this weekend there is a group traveling and I have four mothers who volunteered to check in on Baby 'S' for us. They are going to take pictures of her, love on her and most importantly, pray over her. I really feel grateful to them. Wish I could be there, instead, but am so happy to know that they are going to be with her. It seems unnatural to have other people meeting your child before you do, but that is part of the craziness of this whole thing. I am so thankful for our agency's adoption group, what a blessing they have been. And they don't hesitate at all to do something like this for each other. I pray I have the opportunity to do the same for someone else.
I recently made a "baby book" for Tony. It just kind of describes what kind of baby he must have been. I really prayed about it before making it, and felt that God just kept inspiring me. Since we didn't get him until he was 5 1/2 and the youngest picture we have of him is when he was roughly 3 years old, I had to be creative. But, he loves it. It gives him a story! Everyone needs a story. It makes him feel important. At the beginning and at the end of the book I wrote, "and even when we weren't there with you, Jesus was." That is our daughter's story right now; if I were to write it down. We are not at the "END", but while we aren't there with her "Jesus is".
I just wanted to share with everyone some good news that some fellow adoptive parents are rejoicing over this week. Their son was at the same orphanage as our little one for the last 3 or so months and had some of the same malnourishment issues that our little one does. They were not only in the same orphanage, but also shared a room! Way cool! I get so much encouragement out of the progress that he has made. It is miraculous! I am so excited for this little boy, who started out with difficulty, but whom God has surely touched. He is amazing! So, please go to their blog and read the post entitled "I stand amazed AGAIN!"
We are praying for the same testimony for our little one. We know that God's hand is over that orphanage and that even now He is looking out for and loving my daughter through all of the wonderful people that work there. So, grow baby grow!
A few people have asked me about helping out the orphanage that our daughter is placed in. I thought first that I should tell you about our Agency's ministry there. And I will attach a list of items that are ALWAYS needed at the orphanage. We will personally deliver them to the orphanage. We will be collecting items, as well as money :), to take to the orphanage with us on our first trip over. We are hoping to fill up at least two large Rubbermaid containers. If your heart has been drawn to the plight of the orphan and the widow, then here is a great opportunity to sew into a ministry that is "being" the Gospel to the needy in Ethiopia. To look at statistics about Ethiopia, refer to a previous post about why we chose Ethiopia to adopt our daughter from.
And an update on our Baby 'S'; we did receive word that she smiles, can stand on her feet when being held, holds her head up and makes good eye contact. We have been praying intensely for our daughter. We were blessed to get to view some video of her that a friend who just went to pickup her precious son took while she was there. It was very special (sorry, we can't share it), but I was very struck by how TINY she was. I have to keep myself from getting scared for her. We have to trust in GOD. He loves her infinitely more than we ever could. HE has a plan for her. HE has placed her in our family. HE will redeem the time for her. HE will be faithful to complete the good work that HE has begun in her life. HE can hold her while we are absent. HE rejoices over her.
We have her room all set up. It's so amazing to look at her crib and think that in a couple of months (Lord willing) she will be in there. I can't help but stop and stare into her room every time I pass by and I pray for her. What is she doing? Is she being held and loved? I get much peace knowing that the Special Mothers at Hannah's Hope take such good care of the children.
Here is a video about adoption ministry from All God's Children International, our agency.
For more information on the adoption agency and their ministry, visit their website. Here is a video about one of their recent projects.
A to Z (and more) of Things Needed at HH Ethiopia For babies: (Clothes are not a large need as of right now—please focus on supplies if possible) a) Whole suitcase of diapers, half being for newborn babies b) Pull-ups (for the few toddlers that are almost toilet trained) c) Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo d) Lotions, baby oils and baby wash e) Diaper rash cream— f) Baby Wipes g) Bottles-Avent bottles—both large and small sizes h) Bedding—we get this from Target—please contact Julie about this i) Multivitamins for babies—liquid drops. Also, organic flax seed j) Vegetable or soy based formula—this is the kind that is most needed k) Dairy or Soy based formula
Things for older children: l) Shampoos and conditioners that are fortified for curly hair m) Dandruff shampoos n) Body soap o) Body lotions—especially for dryer or ashy skin p) Clothing for boys and girls between 4 and 13 years old and especially need pants and pajamas q) Shoes including crocs, sneakers (these are especially good for the older boys to play soccer in), for 4 through 13 years old children r) Bedding-sheets for the older children (just get twin sizes and we resize them. Pink (bright), red and green (more lime than grass green)
Other things s) Air freshener (any kind that is safe to use in children/babies rooms and bathrooms) t) Regular size towels (both blue and pink). u) Braun Thermometer Covers v) Deodorant for men and women w) Cloth Diapers and Covers—these are donated to Government Orphanages x) “Boppies” for infants (‘C’ shaped pillow) y) Infant Bouncy Seats or Bumbo Seats z) If you are looking for things to carry these donations over something that would be helpful is to put them in the large Tupperware storage containers. This would be helpful to help store different things like toys etc.
Thank you! It is because of families and friends like you that we can continue to care for these children with the finest and the best supplies! Thank you for your participation!
(can't post pics of her until she's legally ours, but here are her feet!)
She has arrived!!!!!!!!!!
My birthday gift was our Baby 'S'! I received a call from our case worker on my birthday for our daughter. Her Ethiopian name means "gift". What a perfect birthday "gift". She has some special needs that we need to be praying for. She is tiny! I mean really tiny! She came to the Hannah's Hope orphanage in April and they have been trying to put some weight on her since then. She is now 4 months old. I have found myself singing a lot today. I am overjoyed to be a mother again!
We are just so thrilled. We have actually completed all of our referral paperwork and overnighted it today. That was a whirlwind! Now we wait for our agency to check it, send it to Ethiopia, and then pray they open a file for us quickly. You see, in Ethiopia in September, and sometimes all or part of August they close their courts, due to the rains. We could get all of this moved through quickly and they can stop giving court dates until they reopen in October. Obviously, due to our daughter's developmental needs, every day is important. So pray for her and for us and for the courts! We need some miracles! We need to bring our baby 'S' home.
Side note: I will refer to her as Baby 'S' because we cannot use her Ethiopian name, but I
will use her initial. And we haven't decided yet what name we will give her. We also can't post pics of her, either, so you will have to use your imagination. Hint: she's cute, brown, tiny, big eyes, lips I would have to get botox for ......... and just perfect!
So, please pray! Just to review the process. We will have to travel twice. Once in approximately 4-12 weeks (depending on court closure deadlines) to appear in court. Prior to that her birth-mother will appear. After our first trip we will come back and wait 4-8 weeks to return for Embassy appointment and to bring her home. I will post the courtdates as we get them.
It has been a very emotional last few days, but we are just so thankful. And trusting God that he will look after her, whisper in her ears for us and fill her heart with love. Also trusting Him to work all of the details out in His timing! Believing in miracles and the "peace that passeth all understanding"!
Welcome into our hearts Baby 'S'.....we've been waiting for you!
Today Tony had a friend over to play. We got out his new slip-n-slide. He decided to jump immediately on it to show his friend how fast he could go. There was no water on it yet. Stopped dead-in-his-tracks, face plants and comes up with a heck of a busted lip. Lesson learned: slip-n-slides don't slip or slide without water! Bless his heart! He is so passionate.......boys:) Hey, come to think of it, Chris has a scar from a slip-n-slide injury....from just 3 years ago? Hhhummmmmm......BOYS
We received our new # for July and we are #3. Yeah, not very impressive, since we were #4 last month. It seems infant girl referrals have slowed to a snail's pace. But, what are you going to do. We can't add a day to our lives by worrying about it. Trying to enjoy everyday of this journey with the Lord. I feel like one of the disciples, sometimes, though. Jesus invites me to go to the other side of the lake and I agree to go. He seems to be sleeping peacefully right through the middle of "my storm". I start to get anxious and wake Him up. He calms the storm and then asks me "why am i afraid? Have I still not learned to trust Him?" I mean I was willing to cross to the other side of the lake. Cross over to the other side of fear, anxiety, faithlessness...you name it. Whatever we need to be on "the other side of". And then the storms come. Things don't go according to OUR plans. And it always struck me that Jesus was just sleeping right through this storm. What did the disciples feel when they looked down and saw Him just snoring away while they were panicking? How could He?
I think sometimes that is my perception of God's seemingly inactive participation in MY plan. How can He just sit idly by while my plans just fall apart? I mean, I got in the boat didn't I? Or is it truly making it to the other side that He wants to use to "free" me of the things I "got in" the boat for?
Whatever His plan. I know that we will make it to the "other side" of this process. And I hope that my faith in the "Giver of all good things" is even stronger for it. And I hope to leave many of my trappings on the shore and be forever changed by the Captain of the ship.