Hi there. I think it is so important that we join this family in fasting for the orphans of Ethiopia and the hold up at the court level. I so agree with their thoughts on why we should fast. You can find it here:
From their "fancy" for Christmas pictures to their every day silly selves we count ourselves blessed to be their Mom & Dad. They bring us so much joy and we thank God for Moses and Elsabet. Thankful for God's faithfulness from seeing their faces two years ago to being a family of four.
Getting there So I've gotten very behind in blogging and a lot has happened since I last updated this. It was quite a journey from our successful court date until the week we left. Our embassy date, when we would get their visas for travel, was changing pretty much on a daily basis due to some clerical error on their birth certificates. Our soonest possible date had been July 28th, but it was looking more like an early August date would work out. We sought the Lord and just really asked Him when should we travel and strongly felt led to leave the Friday before, being the 22nd. I had mentioned before we were going to squeeze in a vacation for a few days before arriving in Ethiopia and my good friend Sarah encouraged us to see as much of Ethiopia as we could before picking up our kiddos. It was very wise advice, why vacation some where else and make things more complicated on a potentially overwhelming trip as is and miss out on seeing our kids heritage firsthand. However, when we found out we could pick our kids up as soon as we got there all plans of travel were out the window. We just could not wait to meet them and hold them in our arms. As far as the birth certificate error it was fixed and returned in one day. Something we were told never happens and so our embassy date was set for the 28th. God is good and He knew the timing and it was so sweet to just rest in His sovereignty in all of this. He guards the paths of justice and He did so for our family. We were so amazed and so very grateful. We flew out on Emirates. I was a little nervous about a 16 hour straight flight (LA to Dubai), but let me tell you, it is an amazing airline. They have so much in flight entertainment the time literally flies. Our lay over in Dubai was pretty restless as you can imagine with time change and our excitement. We were besides ourselves boarding our flight to Ethiopia. Our time in Ethiopia We were picked up our agency's driver, Zodu and right away fell in love with him. He has such a sweet gentle spirit and was so gracious in answering our (mostly Jon Ryan, he's our researcher) four and half million questions about Ethiopia, the land and her culture. Everyone we met with our agency, for that matter, was such a blessing to us. All very kind, thoughtful, gracious and encouraging - what an amazing team. Our guest house was another sweet gift to the whole experience. The staff there was exceptional and all the other families their on the same journey felt more like family than new acquaintances. Everything about our experiences there pointed to God's providence. Picking up our kids So Zodu asked when we would want to go get our kids. Did we want to nap, eat, shower before we went to get them? In all our restraint we agreed to wait an hour before we went to get them, so we could settle in. Settling in, in hindsight, before getting two kids that will forever change our lives is kind of a joke. How do you prepare for a life changing experience? We didn't know so we packed our diaper bag with all the necessities for a week for that two minute drive and unknowingly took our last long showers. So the drive there we were a mixed bag of emotions mostly excitement bundled in with some nervousness. I'm not really sure what we were nervous about, but we were nervous nonetheless. Sheka joined us, our representative in Ethiopia who oversees the paperwork, and she went ahead of us to get our babies. We were standing in the nurses office when all of a sudden we see Sheka holding Moses just outside the house across a small courtyard. We could not wait for an official meeting and ran over to them right away. My honest first thought when I saw them was "wow they're big, followed by precious and amazing." Of course all my very astute observations are recorded in our gotcha film. We have prayed and labored for years to get to this point and here we were, it was too much to take in. There was no rush of emotion, no dissolving into tears, just joy and rejoicing. We were finally together. Our first week together So our first few days with them were really hard and definitely required a lot of adjusting for us as well. I had up to this point just been thinking of all they would go through and never really considered how much our lives would be changing and our adjustment as a family of four now. We were up most hours of the night and the only thing that would console and comfort Moses and Elsabet were bottles. It was hard. Now knowing them so much better we can see how severely shocked they were and how acute their sadness. At the time we kind of just chalked up a lot of it to maybe-this-is-their-personalities, reserved and easily upset. We'll get in to how far off we were with that thinking on a later post. Because of the sensitivity to Ethiopia's perception of adoption we weren't allowed to travel out of the guest house with our kids. We had the option of leaving them with sitters, which we did for a couple of hours to go buy souvenirs, but aside from that we did not want to leave them and opted to spend our days and nights in the guest house. Which meant our days all looked very much like the next. Eating, sleeping and lounging in the living area. Our big outing was going to the embassy with two other families adopting through CWA. It went so smoothly for all of us and was so much fun to share that moment with other believers. Our driver, Zodu, put in a worship cd in english on the drive home and we all got to worship together. So sweet we all had so much to be thankful for. Except for Moses he cried for an hour on the ride home and so I let Jon Ryan hold him. Bringing them home The travel home involved little sleep, but the kids did so well. They had people to meet on the plane, pull ups to do on the shuttle handles, bottles to drink. I mean it was non stop activity for them. I have heard babies sleep well on planes because of the noise, apparently no one told our babies this fact. Emirates was so accommodating - waiving us to the front of the line, providing baby food, toys, rattles, bibs and bassinets for our little ones to sleep in. We were so blessed by it. It may have to do with their policies or our helpless expressions we had been wearing for the past week. We did have two kids and eight bags to travel with. God graciously placed two very understanding people next to us on the flight home from Dubai to LA. They were so encouraging and helpful. He also let us meet two different groups that were returning from missions work in Uganda. They went through a Calvary Chapel down south and it was such a blessing to get to hear about their work and share about our adoption. Arriving in LA, we could not wait for my parents to meet their grandkids and Eric his niece and nephew. Plus we had some very very dear friends meeting us as well, the Hock family. They will, at least Sarah, most likely show up in many of my posts to come having been such an integral part of our journey. It's so fun to rejoice with people you love. Again, sorry about the length it will be shorter in the future. I promise.
So we found out yesterday that our babies moved to Addis Ababa to the foster home there. Once kids, placed through our agency, have been approved through court they move there and wait to be picked up by their parents. So ours did. We weren't sure when they would, but they hitched a ride into town. It was kind of bittersweet news. It means we are getting closer to picking them up, but it's hard to imagine their loss and the loss of the nannies who have cared for them their first 8 1/2 months. This afternoon we were surprised to receive some more pictures of them in their new residence. And they have grown so much since our last update. We can tell from the pictures that they are into sitting up, playing, sleeping in their own cribs, pulling up and standing (for Moses) and the layered look. It gives me great peace to see them looking happy and healthy. If all goes well and their birth certificates print out in the next 10 days, we will leave in 3 weeks to go get them. We are planning to stay a couple of days in London on our way over. Our last vacation without kiddos for a long time. I was a little resistant to the idea at first. I keep thinking as soon as I head to the airport all I'm going to want to do is be near my kids. But the closer it gets the more excited I am to spend a little time with Jon Ryan, enjoying each others company. We have been so blessed in our marriage, we genuinely love and enjoy each other. We can't wait to bring our kiddos into the mix. Please pray that the birth certificates print out soon and for our little ones as they adjust to a new environment and nannies.
Something happened in the legal realm last week that had already happened in our spirits. Our children passed court and now, Moses and Elsabet are legally our babies. We knew they would be in time, we just didn't know how long our wait would be. We are so grateful and just giddy with excitement. We can't really express how truly amazed we are. And Lord willing we will get to go pick them up at the end of July.
So how it went down. We got the call at 6:13 on Thursday the 18th - their 8 month birthday. Jon Ryan had just emailed 5 minutes prior to let Patricia know we would be ready to take her call, in case she needed some encouragement in knowing our availability. (A side note here is ...we love Patricia, she is so gracious towards us in all our excitement - I think we can be a bit overwhelming and slightly high maintenance) But we had already been awake a couple of hours by then. This time of waiting was so so different than our last court date. I was sleeping for one and we were so peaceful and yet so excited.
God grew our faith a lot these past two weeks. Nothing is wasted with the Lord and I really love that. But seriously the Friday after our first court date I listened to "when the tears fall" by Tim Hughes over and over face down crying before the Lord. It was rough. I detached from our kids in a some small but real way. I am so thankful that I have two very wonderful friends that have already walked this road and can minister to me in a very real and understanding way. Then we began praying, seeking and expecting favor and our hearts changed drastically. We grew in praying expectantly and walking faith in that short span probably more than the year prior. God had our attention. It was a challenging and sweet time and I can say we are thankful for it.
So we just had a sweet time of prayer with some very dear friends. We are so thankful to the Lord to have so much support. I'm feeling so differently this time around. Waiting on our first court date I was pretty anxious and a little guarded knowing how often court cases don't pass, but tonight I'm just excited. In less than 10 hours we should know the outcome. It has felt like a long two weeks, but it's finally here.