Tuesday, June 30, 2009


A sweet time in the evenings in our family is when the youngest 4 sit with me around my laptop and view pictures of children in Ethiopia. We are learning about their culture and Mere will often point to a child and say, "Aww, is that one our baby?"

She is also quick to notice children of color in our local market and will often pull on my shirt and whisper, "Is that one ours?" It's all such a mystery that even the little ones are excited to move forward and get introduced to who our next baby will be.

So, I trudge on. I printed the formal application to our new homestudy this week. The frustration mounts in my chest as I survey the whole process beginning again, and I try to reason myself out of the tedious, but needful, paperwork.

After all, we have another grandchild on the way. We are planning a vacation to the east coast to visit our two grandsons in July, and hope to go back in October for the new baby.

And our oldest daughter is getting married in August. Busy time for our family to make new memories.

And my parents are facing a tough decision with my youngest brother who will need to be transitioned into a new living facility that can meet his mental, social and emotional needs. They need our support right now, and they are not getting any younger.

My brother just had a heart attack and 4 bypasses. I have nieces having babies, other nieces going on mission trips, and cousins getting married. I have a son that is going to hit his first teen year in October, and he's already needing more attention and alot of help if he's going to be successful in Junior high in the fall.
Plus, I have a daughter who's 11 going on 16, not to mention the younger 5 sibs that keep us on our toes.

So, who needs Ethiopia??? Why are we driven to follow our heart there??

As the evening sun sets and little hands began rubbing sleepy eyes, the littlest ones gather around and want to snuggle as we look at pictures of children that resemble the ones implanted in our hearts many months ago. The children that God impressed us with who are waiting for us so many miles away.

Because of Mere, who tells anyone who will listen that we have a new baby brother or sister waiting for us in AFRIOPIA - and as it warms my heart, it also gives me the next push to grab that pen, finish the paperwork and send it off to the ones who are responsible to get us going in the right direction.

God implanted the desire in our hearts, and the little hands and eyes around us remind us that someone is missing from our clan, and soon, very soon, all the setbacks will be over and we will be with the child who is meant to be a part of our family forever.

Keep searching, Mere. Afriopia, as she says, is not so very far away if you can believe in the plan God gave us with the simple faith of a child.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Horrible Homestudy Nightmare

Well, we did it. We actually found a new agency to conduct our International Homestudy.

Yes, we thought we were past this point too. Like, six months ago. We kept contacting our agency and we finally got a letter from them on Friday that said, "____(insert social worker name here) is no longer with our agency."

They returned our money, and said there was no one else in our area, so SEE YA!! I was in disbelief at first, then tears, then panic set in. Six months and intensive paperwork, and it's all over???

I immediately got ahold of our placement agency, for direction mostly, and let off alot of steam. My chest hurt, and I knew it was from holding my breath. I can not believe God had lead us this far toward our Ethiopian child, just to be at a serious stopping point now. What to do?

A new plan formed. I was going back a half of year to start at the research phase - again. Would we ever get past this dreaded point?? How could we have sailed through our 7 domestic adoptions, just to be disappointed that we couldn't seem to obtain that important piece of this international puzzle? My second oldest daughter spoke words of wisdom all the way from Oregon. "Mom, maybe this is the part where you concede and stop trying for another child."

Ah, the joys of adoption. Plans change, obstacles need overcoming, attitudes have to be checked again and again, and here we are at a crossroad. Which way to go now?

Then, a kind voice at the end of the other line speaks comfort to me. Finally. Yes, they can do our homestudy. No, we are not too old to adopt from Ethiopia. Yes, adding another child is perfectly understandable. No, for some families, 10 children is NOT enough. Whew. Has God lead us here? Yep. Is HIS hand still guiding our steps? Sure is!! Is HIS will still our focus? Definately!!

So I began the process (again) of filling out homestudy paperwork. Since I have been here before, maybe it won't seem so daunting this time...


At least there is hope again. And hope is waiting for us in Ethiopia!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rainy Wednesday

I think we are getting our April showers in June this year. I used to love a lazy, rainy day, but with 7 kids out of school, the rain keeps us cooped up too much and makes me pine for sunny days.

Yesterday the kids painted rocks. I had 2 tons delivered on Monday as a birthday gift from my husband, so they had plenty to choose from. The big kids found several clumps of clay in the pile and spent hours fashioning items that they dried out and painted along with their rock creations. Tara asked me this morning at 7:30 what our craft was today. Oh, I am just not sure I am into crafting today!! I was hoping to put my solar lights in the front garden, and then place some more rocks around the back fence gardens today. The question is, do I want to work out in the rain???

So maybe today will be a baking day. Anything we do is an adventure. I am also ready to hang decorations in Tom's new room, and iron his new curtains. After weeks of him wanting to paint his walls chocolate brown, we convinced him to go with a nice deep blue color, and we finished painting about midnight last night. He may be able to sleep in his new room tonight!!

We could paint, bake, clean, or snuggle with a movie today. I guess on a rainy wednesday our options are open for whatever we want to do. What a nice middle-of-the-week plan. Rain and all!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Red Chips

Everytime I say "chips," my kids immediately envision SALSA!!
I returned from another doctor appointment this morning with my oldest daughter and found 2 yards of red chips in my trailer for the garden!! Yay!! I am revamping the front landscaping of our home, which happens to be my stress reliever, and was short of mulch when I put my tools away on Sunday night. That wonderful husband of mine surprised me with two more loads so I can finish the project. He values my hobby and he has been so helpful getting this yard work done. I make the messes, pulling weeds and old vines, and he faithfully picks it all up before I can even get off my knees. What a great team.

Tyler, 12, loves gardening with me the most. He's got the strength that I lack and definately more stamina for the long haul. That puts Nic and Nelly in charge of watching the younger ones as they play around us. It's a great summer for getting things done.

Tommy has a big black eye and cheek today. No, he's not the one with the broken nose! He will be 5 on Saturday, and for some reason, it looked fun to him to ride down the stairs in a rubbermaid plastic bin. I don't believe he thought it thoroughly through. The last time he did it there was an open doorway at the end of the ride. There is a wall there now. He hit hard, really hard. Boy, this would have been a great week to have an automatic ice maker!! Tyler, on the other hand, is looking more normal, his nose is not as swelled today, and Tom actually got more of a black eye with his escapades than Tyler did. Boys.

I bought 2 comforters yesterday at our resale shop. For some background, when our first daughter was born, Mike's mom had embroidered a small blanket for her crib and finished the patchwork squares off with a delicate gingham print material. After it was too small to wrap her in, we used it as a wall hanging. It's in her keepsake box now. When I saw the comforters at the shop, they were the very same embroidered patchwork squares that my mother in law had constructed 27 years ago for Ashleigh, and I was captivated by the intricate stitches, and the adorable colors. I toyed with the idea of walking away, but I felt a huge compelling to purchase those comforters and then found pillows to match!! I was so excited about getting them at a reasonable price, that I totally forgot to use my $5 coupon!! So, after some spot treatments, I plan to launder then and put them on the beds for our Ethiopian girls. Did I just say "girls?" I guess when you have 7 girls to 3 boys, it just felt right to believe that's who is coming home (eventually!!) It was so exciting to purchase our first "real" decoration for the new ones, and the connection to our first child was not an accident. Ash said we could use that original baby quilt to decorate their room, so there it is. Brown walls, pink handmade comforters and pillows to match. Baby girls, here we come!! And if you just happen to have a little brother that belongs with you, we have just the plan in place to welcome you all!!

What a good day. Chips, blankets and dreams. Now, back to gardening!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Broken Nose

We celebrated Tylers 6th grade graduation with a broken nose. Well, actually, the celebration started before the break. He invited a good friend, Mitch, to celebrate with us, and it was a perfect night for pitching a baseball. Good throw, bad catch. Tyler ended up with a double size nose, Mitch felt terrible, and we are going through ice in this house like crazy this weekend. The good news, Tyler is now an official 7th grader, Mitchell is still his friend, and school is out for the summer!

Nicole is going into 6th grade now. Tyler will have his first year in the Jr. High, while Nicole will be enjoying her last year at the elementary. She's at the "top of the food chain" now, and has hit the girl drama phase. Never a dull moment in Nic's life. She hopes to spend alot of time drawing and crafting this summer.

Nelly - going into 5th grade, ready for playing all summer long. She gets more freckles as the sun comes out, and she just got an adorable haircut that accents her petite face better than the long bob cut did. She is a girl that truly just "wants to have fun."

Tara sailed through kindergarten. Yay! She is learning to read, and is enjoying putting words together on her own now. She drew a cute picture of baby Bella, and sounded out her name. It's a keeper for the scrapbooks. She has seen the "Up" movie twice, and could own it. She still surrounds herself with stuffed dogs, most of which are named "Hunter." She will spend next year in first grade, the first all day of school. That will be interesting!! She loved riding the bus back and forth to school the last 2 weeks, and came home starving at 12:15 every day.

Mere scored second highest in her preschool class for kindergarten readiness. All year was a struggle, she cried alot, and hated leaving home. Go figure. She threw so many fits that the teacher (wonderful lady) let her fall asleep on more than one occasion, and the naps always helped. Mere is totally sleep deprived, and if she ever learns to sleep in her own bed we will celebrate. She already dreads kingergarten, but hopefully she will learn to write her name before school starts. She and Tom will be in the same classroom again, and if they get the teacher I asked for, she will love the humor and fun.

Tom found a social life in preschool. Prior to school, his only experience with kids, other than siblings, was mostly in sunday school. Wow, did he love it. He draws pictures of his friends, and loves writing their names above it. He is constantly wanting to play with his buddy next door, and would rather be outside playing than eating or anything else. He hates taking a bath, but once he's in there, we can't get him out!

Bella. What a treat. Is there any age better than 2? She says a new word everyday, and keeps us in belly grabbing laughter. Just now she came from a quiet gathering upstairs, and has her entire face covered in halloween makeup. Gorgeous. She carries several fleece mini-blankets with pacifiers attached, and for her, the more the merrier. I know at her age I should be breaking the paci habit, but when she's the baby, and she pleadingly says, "please?", how can we resist. My mom keeps it in perspective. She's never been to a wedding where the bride had a paci in her mouth. I am not going to worry about it for a while yet. Maybe potty training will get done first.

We are looking forward to a busy, fun summer. Camping trips planned, visits with grandkids on the horizon, and late night marshmallow roasts on the back deck. Stay tuned for more....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Adoption Blues

You would think after 7 adoptions, we would be well rounded in the ups and downs of the process. But somehow, this international adoption feels much more overwhelming.
We seem "stuck" in the homestudy phase right now. We assumed (incorrectly) that the Social Worker would be completing his paperwork on our behalf as we completed the construction projects that we are working on to make room for our new additions. However, after the first visit from the SW, we heard nothing until the day of his scheduled second visit. Of course, at the time I opened my email, I was not expecting him to put us off, and we had gone to all the trouble of preparing for a guest to visit, when in all actuality, he had decided much before the appointed time that he wasn't coming. The trouble was, he did not tell us that!! So, to handle the last minute disappointment, we went to the local steak and salad bar, and drowned our sorrows in all the fats we could handle. Even the kids were disheartened that we would not be having our second homestudy visit when we expected it.
So, the rest of the visits are now determined by the projects being completed before the SW returns. It seems to us that he could have done his work while we did ours, and then make the final visit as a "let's see what you have finished" type visit. We are really discouraged that we have been working soooo hard, and the projects to finish do not even have anything to do with where another child would sleep, eat or play!
I know I am anxious to meet our children. I am ready to move on and out of this horrible paperwork phase. I am feeling the tick tock of time moving quickly past us, and I am concerned that our next children will not have to languish in the orphanages too long, waiting for the process in America to be completed so the Ethiopian government can complete their process. It's frustrating to be so out of control of a situation, and dependant on the time frames of other people. I want to know what child is coming, so as I paint his/her/their room, I can decorate it especially for them. I want this paper pregnancy phase to be over, so that we can go through the labor pains and onto the growing years!
Sigh. It is hard to hand it all over. But one night last week, I took the names of the waiting children that I had prayed over and hoped for, handed them back to their loving Father God, and released my emotional hold on them. Will that matter to them? Not really. Will it matter to their government or our government? Nope. But in my heart, I felt like I was trying to keep God in MY BOX under my timing, in my own way. I had to pray that He helped me trust HIS sovereign will in the lives of these children, and that HE would continue to prepare us, and the children we need to bring home will be steadily kept in HIS hands until we meet. It was a big emotional step for me, and I think it brought me more peace.
I am determined to trudge ahead. I want to focus on the joy awaiting us when our children come home. I want to trust in HIS timing to make it all what it needs to be for our family. And more than anything, I want to be able to say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this path we are walking is exactly where we need to be, at this time, in this way. Because I believe it to be true.
Little children, we are coming. It is our hearts desire to make it to where you are so we can complete our family with your smiling eyes.