Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Our First Trip to Ethiopia

Two years ago this month we were blessed with LJ, AJ, and JJ.

Due to a small administrative "snag", we were given a 10 day notice that we were going to Ethiopia. 10 days! Needless to say, we were scrambling around like lost children trying to figure out what was most important to do and what could be left undone until we got back. Our dog, Cookie (Princess, if you ask her), was being cared for by our close friends down the street.

The trip to Addis Ababa was uneventful, to the point of boring. Once there we met the foster home director/manager, who helped us get settled into our Suite at the Hilton. The accommodations are very westernized and the hotel is inside of a walled-in complex of buildings. It's designed to make you forget about the poor wretchedness just outside of the walls. The next day we got to meet our children for the first time.

Netsanet, Tseganesh, and Efrem came from a "well-to-do family" whose father was a teacher and mother a homemaker. Well-to-do, it seems, means a steady job. Both parents were good Christian people who had passed away several years ago and the children, with their older brothers (who were too old to be adopted) took care of themselves for about 2 years.

The girls and Efrem were very well behaved and well mannered. Both girls were typically quiet, and both answered "yes" to whatever we asked. Between the kids, they probably only knew about 30 words in English. They mostly smiled and nodded or laughed when we laughed. Poor babies. These are beautiful children (of course I say this in complete objectivity). We only got to spend about 3 hours with them that day, and they had to go back to the foster home.

The next day we went to the American Embassy where everything was finalized. An arduous adventure as always, but it was done. They are ours! To love, care for, protect, teach, nurture, and watch grow into the loving people God has made them to be.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It just reminds me of DJ...

As we go through the beginning motions of this new adoption, I love to reflect on our adoptions of LJ, AJ, DJ and JJ. With DJ, I remember how we saw his picture the first time and how sweet and content he seemed. Then I remember our first meeting and he was this scared little 3 year old not knowing what the heck was going on.

In retrospect, I still can't imagine what it was like for a toddler who had never experienced having a mom or dad (mamma & babba) taking care of him to be presented to people and being told that's who they were going to be. He had been in an orphanage since birth. Neither of us is Chinese, neither of us speaks Chinese, other than the phrase "I love you". We learned this in Manderine. Of course Fujian Lo (DJ's birth name) didn't speak Manderine, he spoke Lodi, a local dialect. He was given over to us in a hotel in the middle of the night. He had a bag of candy and snacks with him (we find out later that he didn't like anything in that bag; his caregivers were probably just trying to give him something to keep him quiet). He took one look at us as he was being handed to us and starts screaming!

Of course we understand and we do our best to hold onto him and not let him run back to his caregivers, who are doing their best to soothe him with soft words. Then they start crying, I'm sure no matter how many times they have to do this, it breaks their heart to hand over another angelic little baby they realize may never step foot in China again. So I talk to them through our interpreter to tell them that we will care for, love and nurture him.

We take him up to our room and run a much needed bath. DJ gets to experience a flush toilet for the first time and we never had to worry about him turning back from then on. :o) Our only worry was how to pay the forth coming water bill increase! Flush! Giggle, giggle. Flush!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Adoption Process Begins

Pam and I are now considered PAPs (Prospective Adoptive Parents).

When Pam & I chose this group of 2 brothers and 1 sister, (3-2-B ours) we rely on God speaking to our hearts. I'm not sure how to describe it other than when we looked at the long, long list of pictures our hearts tugged at certain children and didn't at others. It may seem shallow at first blush, but I'm not sure how else to say it. We essentially did the same for all 4 of our others. We truly believe that God blesses us in any way He chooses so we leave it up to Him to choose the children for us. Since all we have to start with are pictures, we pray over the pictures and let our hearts be our guides. Since He lives there, we trust His judgement to be true.

The 3-2-B ages are (approximately) 8 (Boy), 9 (Girl), 12 (B0y). So we will have with us at home: 7, 8, 9, 9, 12, 13, & 15! I've tried out saying all the names in succession by age; it's hilarious. We intend to change their names to give them American first names and retain their Ethiopian first & last names as middle names. We're still working out what names we want. Pam and I haven't gotten totally on the same page yet on them.

We've started the paperwork with Christian World Adoption (CWA). When we started this with DJ, they called it the "Paper Dragon". It is aptly named, let me tell you. Now it's called "The Paper Chase". We have to get our birth certificates, background checks (Pam and I have lived in 3 states in the past 10 years), State fingerprints, financial status, personal references, medical exams, mental/emotional evaluations, etc., etc., etc. It all of it has to be notified, verified, certified, vilified, heck-if-I'd... :o) We have to take adoptive parenting classes, as well. After that, it's all approved by a social worker, then CWA. Then it's all sent to Ethiopia, translated into Amharic and sent on through the government system there. We are expecting about a 9 month process (how apropos). All along the way, we are paying for this stamp, that signature, this process, that class/book, this fee that fee, etc., etc.

We need/want/have to have/treasure your prayers for us through this process. We need wisdom, peace, strength, and resources. Our 3-2-B need prayers for peace, strength, health an safety.

God Bless each of you for reading this and praying along with us.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fast Forward for one moment

OK, this will give you a little whiplash, but hang-on...!

We started this blog to show our journey on how we got to where we are today. Today we have DJ from China, and LJ, AJ & JJ from Ethiopia. Our intention was to share our story in order to encourage others who were or are considering adoption. It was to be basically a historical trip up to present and then a journal for the future. It was...

In the mean time Pam and I had been praying about enlarging our family (As if 4 at home and 5 away was not large enough!). We believe the Lord God has provided our family a mission and our mission is to adopt, love and care for orphans. We can't save the world, but our little drop of water in the ocean of need is better than doing nothing at all. We have been lead to another sibling group of three children (one girl and two boys) in Ethiopia! So we want to start chronicling our path to bring these children home.

This ought to be quite the adventure. We'll add pictures, and bios on them for you to see. What we want to ask right now is for your prayers. LOTS & LOTS & LOTS of prayers! International adoptions are lengthy, stressful, and expensive. Our children (those at home and those to-be) will need your prayers as well.

I'll attempt to continue a veritable parrallel blog of bringing up the past while covering the present at the same time. If it gets to cumbersome, I'll drop the past until later.