How Motherhood Begins, Continues, And…

Recently, I went through a study with some friends through the book of Nehemiah. I was reminded during the study of our journey to adopt and bringing Nehemiah into our family. Two years ago today, our lives changed with a simple phone call. We often joke how you never know what a day will hold when you wake up and this day is a reminder of that.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Josh was preaching though Nehemiah when God changed the beating of our heart from {we will adopt someday} to {God is calling us NOW to adopt}. Our prayer through this time echoed that of Nehemiah: Break our hearts for what breaks Yours. And our hearts broke for the marginalized and orphaned…

After 6 months the initial paperwork was completed and we were accepted into our agency’s Ethiopia program, our desire was for an infant, just like everyone else. As the wait times increased we decided to pursue a concurrent adoption of an domestic infant.

We met a young birthmom, it would have been easy, she had been under the care of her aunt, had never missed an OB appointment, we fit right in with her and the family, and could imagine ourselves at BBQ’s with them all.

But she did not choose us.

A week later, we got a call telling us, “Come to the hospital, bring a car seat and some clothes because we have a baby boy for you!”

This situation was messy and would require so much more from us than we had imagined.

For our son, Nehemiah, God’s hand has been on him from before he was born. Literally, God saved his life. His birthmom was wandering the streets, she had decided to take her own life and the life of her unborn baby. Yet, God in his love planted a love in her heart for that unborn child which saved her own life and his.

The moment of adoption is surreal. So many things go into that moment that moves so quickly.

We found ourselves at the hospital, signing papers to become the parents of a child we had never met.

After we arrived at the hospital, Josh and I sat for hours in the cafeteria just waiting. We couldn’t talk, read or do anything, our hearts were pounding, just wondering what this boy would be like and how our lives would change. They were excruciating hours. Where all you can do is wait some more. You are so close, but you are just waiting some more.

We don’t know how he entered the world, in a fit of screams or a quietly and observant, he would be two days old when we got that call. He was little, born at 5 pounds and who knows how many weeks. Josh always joked that he looked like Benjamin Button because of how wrinkly his skin was and how he hadn’t grown into it.

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The birthmom’s first words to us were, “do you want to hold him?” The emotions in that moment were overwhelming. The answer was yes, but it was also so sad. We learned again in that moment the heartbreak that goes into adoption. Someone places a child for adoption. All situations are different, but adoption always has hurt in it at some level.

We talked with the his birth parents, took some pictures and just adored this little bundle. The birthdad left in a fit of tears, Birthmom went to another room to be discharged. And we were discharged with our newest son. We were in shock, and felt like we were taking someone else’s baby. Yet we were in love and knew that he was entering our family now.

Nehemiah entered our family and community seamlessly. He was little, but overall healthy.

It was the spiritual warfare that we felt during that time that was so hard. I remember waking up at night with him laying in the bassinet next to me seemingly terrified of him… the times of sensing someone else was there.

The tears that flowed after the endless meetings with birthmom the first few months, hearing her story of abuse and neglect, the oppression and demons that she had fought and was currently fighting. The birthdad spent time in jail, he only made it to one or maybe two visits. It was not clean.

The visits tapered off, partly because of our covenant and presumably because it was too hard for her to keep up her end of the agreement.

We have continued to pray, “Lord, break our hearts for what breaks yours.”

We are living that, though it is easy to forget and whitewash our Nehemiah’s journey. I wonder now what to do for Birthmom, she lives in squalor, without a proper kitchen. What is our role in her life right now? But I don’t have answers.

I had huge prayers for her to turn her life around to see and cling to Jesus. Those prayers have not been answered as I hoped. In all, you are reminded that you don’t save anyone. This is what people often say to us, “You saved him.” They mean well and we understand, but we didn’t save Nehemiah. We can’t. He’s a precious child that God loves dearly and has great plans for us, but only Jesus can save him.

When Josh and I are asked why we adopted 2 kids, our simple answer is, “God adopted us. This is the best way we know how to show that the world around us.”

Our lives have changed a lot in the last 2 years. We’ve brought Judah home, Nehemiah is now a tank of a kid and into everything as he’s grown. He brings a smile to our face and loves kisses and trailing after his siblings. We pray that as he grows, he will be like Nehemiah in the Bible. That he will grow as a leader, to be a man, that has a heart that breaks for the things of God. That he in some ways, lives up to the name we gave him.

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What Now for our Family (And How You can Be a Part of our Lives Now)

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It is hard to believe that Judah and I have been home for 5 days now. All the effort and emotion and planning that went into this moment is enormous. Hours were spent on rummage sales, raising funds, filling out paperwork, taking tests and preparing for this moment. And now it is here.

So many people have been a part of our journey up until this point, helping to make this time happen and to bring Judah home. We love that people feel a part of it.

On Sunday at church, so many people asked Josh about us, how we were doing, when they would see us, etc.

To help answer that question, here’s a post from Jen Hatmaker (w/ some additions from me) that will help to explain how we are doing and how best to help us in this transition:

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. I mean this nicely, but don’t come over for a while. Most of us are going to hole up in our homes with our little tribe and attempt to create a stable routine without a lot of moving parts. This is not because we hate you; it’s because we are trying to establish the concept of “home” with our newbies, and lots of strangers coming and going makes them super nervous and unsure, especially strangers who are talking crazy language to them and trying to touch their hair.

2. Please do not touch, hug, kiss, or use physical affection with our kids for a few months. We absolutely know your intentions are good, but attachment is super tricky with abandoned kids, and they have had many caregivers, so when multiple adults (including extended family) continue to touch and hold them in their new environment, they become confused about who to bond with. This actually delays healthy attachment egregiously. It also teaches them that any adult or stranger can touch them without their permission, and believe me, many adoptive families are working HARD to undo the damage already done by this position. If Judah comes to you, always redirect him to Josh or I. Thank you so much for respecting these physical boundaries.

3. For the next few months, do not assume the transition is easy. For 95% of us, it so is not. And this isn’t because our family is dysfunctional or our kids are lemons, but becausethis phase is so very hard on everyone. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to constantly hear: “You must be so happy!” and “Is life just so awesome now that they’re here??” and “Your family seems just perfect now!” I wanted that to be true so deeply, but I had no idea how to tell you that our home was actually a Trauma Center. (I did this in a passive aggressive way by writing this blog, which was more like “An Open Letter to Everyone Who Knows Us and Keeps Asking Us How Happy We Are.”) Starting with the right posture with your friends –this is hard right now – will totally help you become a safe friend to confide in / break down in front of / draw strength from.

4. Do not act shocked if we tell you how hard the early stages are. Do not assume adoption was a mistake. Do not worry we have ruined our lives. Do not talk behind our backs about how terribly we’re doing and how you’re worried that we are suicidal. Do not ask thinly veiled questions implying that we are obviously doing something very, very wrong. Do not say things like, “I was so afraid it was going to be like this” or “Our other friends didn’t seem to have these issues at all.” Just let us struggle. Be our friends in the mess of it. We’ll get better.

5. If we’ve adopted older kids, please do not ask them if they “love America so much” or are “so happy to live in Arizona.” It’s this simple: adoption is born from horrible loss. In an ideal world, there would be no adoption, because our children would be with their birth families, the way God intended. I’ll not win any points here, but I bristle when people say, “Our adopted child was chosen for us by God before the beginning of time.” No he wasn’t. He was destined for his birth family. God did not create these kids to belong to us. He didn’t decide that they should be born into poverty or disease or abandonment or abuse and despair aaaaaaaall so they could finally make it into our homes, where God intended them to be. No. We are a very distant Plan B. Children are meant for their birth families, same as my biological kids were meant for mine. Adoption is one possible answer to a very real tragedy… after it has already happened, not before as the impetus for abandonment. There is genuine grief and sorrow when your biological family is disrupted by death and poverty, and our kids have endured all this and more. So when you ask my 4-year-old if he is thrilled to be in Arizona, please understand that he is not. He misses his country, his language, his food, his family. Our kids came to us in the throes of grief, as well they should. Please don’t make them smile and lie to you about how happy they are to be here.

6. Please do not disappear. If I thought the waiting stage was hard, it does not even hold the barest candle to what comes after the airport. Not. The. Barest. Candle. Never have I felt so isolated and petrified. Never have I been so overwhelmed and exhausted. We need you after the airport way more than we ever needed you before. I know you’re scared of us, what with our dirty hair and wild eyes and mystery children we’re keeping behind closed doors so they don’t freak out more than they already have, but please find ways to stick around. Call. Email. Check in. Post on our Facebook walls. Send us funny cards. Keep this behavior up for longer than six days.

Here’s what we would love to hear or experience After the Airport:

1. Cook for your friends (here’s a meal train calendar friends put together that you can be a part of). There simply are not words to describe how exhausting and overwhelming those first few weeks are, not to mention the lovely jet lag everyone came home with. And if your friends adopted domestically right up the street, this is all still true, minus the jet lag.

2. If we have them, offer to take our biological kids for an adventure or sleepover. Please believe me: their lives just got WHACKED OUT, and they need a break, but their parents can’t give them one because they are 1.) cleaning up pee and poop all day, 2.) holding screaming children, 3.) spending all their time at doctors’ offices, and 4.) falling asleep in their clothes at 8:15pm. Plus, they are in lockdown mode with the recently adopted, trying to shield them from the trauma that is Wal-Mart.

3. Thank you for getting excited with us over our little victories. I realize it sounds like a very small deal when we tell you our kindergartener is now staying in the same room as the dog, but if you could’ve seen the epic level of freakoutedness this dog caused her for three weeks, you would understand that this is really something. When you encourage us over our incremental progress, it helps. You remind us that we ARE moving forward and these little moments are worth celebrating. If we come to you spazzing out, please remind us where we were a month ago. Force us to acknowledge their gains. Be a cheerleader for the healing process.

4. Come over one night after our kids are asleep and sit with us on our porch. Let me tell you: we are all lonely in those early weeks. We are home, home, home, home, home. Good-bye, date nights. Good-bye, GNO’s. Good-bye, spontaneous anything. Good-bye, church. Good-bye, big public outings. Good-bye, community group. Good-bye, nightlife. So please bring some community to our doorstep. Bring friendship back into our lives. Bring adult conversation and laughter. And bring an expensive bottle of wine.

5. If the shoe fits, tell adopting families how their story is affecting yours. If God has moved in you over the course of our adoption, whether before the airport or after, if you’ve made a change or a decision, if somewhere deep inside a fire was lit, tell us, because it is spiritual water on dry souls. There is nothing more encouraging than finding out God is using our families for greater kingdom work, beautiful things we would never know or see. We gather the holy moments in our hands every day, praying for eyes to see God’s presence, his purposes realized in our story. When you put more holy moments in our hands to meditate on, we are drawn deeper into the Jesus who led us here.

Beauty Comes out of Brokenness

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We just spent 10 days on vacation in San Diego… And there were predictable, smooth, and wonderful days.

We were able to soak in the sun and enjoy God’s beautiful creation at the ocean and in the tide pools. We were able to start reading “The Narnia” series as a family, do a puzzle and eat amazing food. We were able to spend a day at sea world and Lego land.

Now we are going to ruin it.

By deciding to adopt, a 4 year old, from a different country, we have intentionally decided to send our family from a place of predictability to triage. Overnight.

Truth be told I have been afraid of the transition now that it is finally becoming a reality. Adoption is beautiful, but it is born out of loss and abandonment. For Judah Mamush to become a part of our family he must lose 2 languages, a culture, country, food, smells and sounds that are familiar to him. We do not take that lightly. There will be a grieving process that we will walk through with him and we don’t know what that will look like. It has scared me.

I am certain of one thing: we felt very specifically called to adopt, and although I know that call does not mean that it will be easy, it will be beautiful; whether on this side of heaven or the other. Praise Jesus that he is constant and our feelings do not need to control our reality.

As He is prone to do, God has reminded me of his presence and that he will hold and guide us through this.

Because our 4 kids who are at home with us were having a hard time with me leaving, friends of ours drove me up to Phoenix for an early morning flight. They are in the process of adopting internationally as well, so we had much to talk about on the way to the airport. Things that I have thought through, but won’t know how they play out until we have Judah Mamush home… Like how will he react to our routine, will he get along well with the other kids, when will we start taking him out of the house to church and the grocery store, have we found him a barber, how will he/we deal with the fact that we are a transracial family, etc. We have tried to educate ourselves to the best of our ability, but there is so much unknown.

I used the curbside check-in, it was a breeze. The attendant was African-American, he asked why I was traveling to Ethiopia, I explain. He asks if we have a name for him. Yes we do… And then he pulls out his name tag and tells me that we can use his name Jamal… It means beautiful. He got so excited and said he was proud of me and to enjoy my trip. It was such a lighthearted exchange and brought a smile to my face, after having tucked in 3 crying children the night before.

After sitting at the gate for a while we realize that our flight is delayed by a few hours, this is not a big deal for my travel plans because I will be staying overnight in DC before leaving in the morning for Addis. Many people were annoyed, but in God’s providence I got to sit and talk with a women who was born in Ethiopia and moved to the states with her parents when she was 9 under political asylum. We talked about the changes that have taken place in Ethiopia over the last ten years, but we also talked about the adoption. Her words were a balm to those places of anxiety. As I travel a peace is washing over me. I know that there will be a time of transition and a road to complete restoration in our family…. But isn’t that always to work of a family, of a mother. To help our children to see themselves as sinners and try to help them find their true identity in Christ, instead of their past.

I join in prayer with all of you parents who are facing a situation that is hard. I love that God sees the end, and we can trust him to that; while taking steps each day, enlightened by his word and prayer to get there.

Sometimes all we can do is trust God to be good, pure and right and take that next step in the direction that we feel he is calling us in. And so I step onto a plane to travel across the world to bring home our baby.

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The Beginning of The End

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I am on the LONG journey to finally pick up our son, Judah Mamush. The process of adoption is almost over, but the journey of integrating Judah Mamush into our family is just beginning.

The last two weeks have been a mix of emotions…

Earlier in the month we watched as a group of families who were a week ahead of us in the process be screened and clear embassy quickly; we anticipated that we would hear from the embassy right after them. If you know anything about international adoption, you know that it is anything but predictable and smooth. It was two more weeks before we heard anything from the embassy, and those two weeks were excruciating.

We were planning our trip to San Diego (which we had moved from the summer because of traveling to Ethiopia the first time), and waiting for any morsel of information from the embassy. Finally, we got word that our case was being screened and they were requesting a birth relative interview, this is not uncommon when there is a living birth relative, but it took a while to schedule an interview with him, because our agency couldn’t reach him by phone because of the remote location where he lives. After scheduling the appointment we decided to purchase tickets in anticipation of clearing and traveling the following week.

That decision ended up paying off, but was riddled with high emotion as we found out the embassy was booked almost solid because of holidays… Thankfully they took pity on us and scheduled a visa appointment that would work with our prearranged travel plans.

Josh and I started this journey of adoption in February of 2010… Just shy of 4 years ago. There are so many people and memories during that time. It has been a humbling experience having to ask people to help us accomplish something that we could not have doe on our own. So many of you have given time, money, stuff, prayers, and well wishes.

I still remember, one of our first small groups prayed over the initial paperwork, many of you worked at one or all of our rummage sales- sorting, selling, translating, folding, boxing, unboxing. Through this journey we have adopted Nehemiah, who we brought home from the hospital and straight to our MC! We we able to bless a local widow in tucson with a house facelift while raising funds for our adoption. Your support and love have been heard and felt.

Especially during these last few months as the wait from meeting Judah Mumush to picking him up has been gut wrenching. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

The journey is not over… We will still need your prayers and support. This next step I our journey will be riddled with educating ourselves and those around us how to best show Judah Mamush what a family is, and how that is played out within a community of believers.

Thank you for your part in our journey. We are closer to the end and the next step.

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A Mother’s Heart (From a Husband’s Perspective)

If men are honest, we’d like to understand our wives, we try to, but we are often left scratching our heads as to what they need, what they want and what they are trying to say. While men love to stay in the world of logic and avoid emotions at all cost, women stay right at home in emotions. For men, it rarely makes sense and if you ask women, they will tell you it doesn’t have to make sense.

Over the last month, as we’ve shared with people what is happening in our adoption, waiting to bring Judah Mamush home it has been hard to describe the agony of what it feels like. I told one guy that we’ve discussed putting Katie on a plane so she can go to Ethiopia to be with Judah Mamush until he passes embassy and he said, “Josh, you need to stop trying to control things.” I said the same thing to a couple of Mom’s and they all looked they were going to cry.

While the last month has been hard for me, it has been different for Katie. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about my wife and the heart of a mother that hopefully will be helpful to other men (whether they have kids or not).

Here they are:

  • A mother feels differently than a father. While this is true of men and women in general as I said earlier, when it comes to parenting it is even more true. A mother feels the loss of something different than a father does. I miss Judah. I can’t wait for him to be here, to play soccer with him, teach him to ride a bike, to do things with him. Katie longs to hold him, to snuggle him, hug him and tell him that he is loved. To give him a feeling he has not had in his life, a feeling of safety, of belonging.
  • Be honest with your wife about your heart. While men often get labeled as callous or insensitive because we don’t cry or feel the way a woman does, it is important to be honest with your wife about your heart. A wife always wants to know what you are feeling, what is running through your head and heart. When we left Judah Mamush on our last day in Ethiopia, he was on the ground screaming and crying because he didn’t know if we were coming back, he only knew we were leaving. He doesn’t speak English so we couldn’t say, “We’re coming back.” Katie is on the verge of losing it and I did everything in my power to pick him up and not cry. I couldn’t even talk or else I would’ve cried. I am almost crying retelling this story. As we left and over the last month, it has been important to my wife’s heart to know of my heart, to know how it hurts, to know my longing as a father for my son. To not be the man and just bottle it up and with tough upper lip. That’s why a wife thinks her husband is insensitive, because he holds back. 
  • Distance is easier for men to handle. Men can handle distance in relationships because of how we handle emotions. We are able to compartmentalize things, get busy and forget about things because we are laser focused and don’t multi-task our emotions. I can go a whole day and not think about something that Katie has thought about all day while doing 15 other things. This can create a sense for women that their husbands don’t care or don’t feel. That isn’t it at all, it is just that we push it to the back of our minds so that we can do other things. If I thought about Judah the way Katie did, I would never get any work done. She can think of him, teach our kids, have coffee with someone, make dinner and still think of Judah and post something on Facebook that isn’t related to Judah.
  • Hold a woman when she cries, don’t ask questions. This has been one of our rules in marriage from day one. Katie has told me, “When I cry, just hold me and don’t ask why.” This is just solid advice for a husband, but even more so in the moments of parenting when you as the father can’t fix a situation or do anything about it. I can’t make the Ethiopian embassy go faster or look at our paperwork. I can’t send Katie on a plane to Ethiopia to bring Judah home any faster than it is going and that is frustrating.
  • A mother’s heart is a mystery. While I’ve learned some things, a mother’s heart is a mystery to me and will remain so. It feels and responds in ways I can’t even imagine. It longs in ways that I don’t. It aches in ways that don’t even cross my mind. It is a mystery, and yet, as a father and husband I am grateful for it. It forces me to feel in important ways. I can easily be tough and not emotional, but walking with Katie through this time, meeting Judah and holding him and then the agony of having to say goodbye to him has taught me a lot about being a father and the love God has for me.

My hope with this post was to honor my wife and the beauty and power of her heart as a mother. But to also help men know how to best honor, love, care for and support their wives and the hearts that beat in them. To encourage them to be a mystery, to have emotion and to handle things differently from men.

Books on Adoption & Parenting

I’m often asked about book recommendations when it comes to parenting or adoption. Everything from how you get your child to eat the food you give them to organizing your day to not go crazy and everything in between. Below are some of the books that I have found to be the most helpful and useful, with a little bit about each book so you know which ones to get for your family.

Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families by Jayne Schooler & others

A great book with an overview perspective on parenting traumatized children- less of a how to and more of a why things play out the way they do. MANY books are referenced, and there is an extensive appendix of additional resources and support groups/aids. There is an honest look at extreme abuse/trauma cases but doesn’t talk through cultural/language differences or more mild cases- though I would assume it is much of the same. There is a good section on how adoption affects the “original” family; including siblings already in the home.

Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers to Food Aversions and Eating Challenges by Lori Ernsperger

As a mom of a resistant eater this book covered many things that don’t apply to our specific situation ie. a healthy son who refuse to try new foods, but is has some great ideas to help include a wider variety of foods into a resistant eaters diet. The book provides a middle ground that I could not see- not acquiescing to whatever your child will eat and not forcing them to eat which can promote negative attitudes toward new foods. There seemed to be many ideas for kids with special needs who need help developing a wider diet.

Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child: From Your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years by Patty Cogen

For a soon to be adoptive parent of an international child this book is a must. It gives so many practical tools and games to connect with a child who needs help bonding and also gives clues into what your child is feeling based on the type of play that they are engaging in. The book uses a few “stereotyped” kids to talk through typical reactions for different personality types and coping methods for kids from hard places. This book does not need to be read in one sitting, but can be read incrementally because it is written in chronological fashion.

A Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul by Holly Pierlot

This has nothing to do with adoption, but I know that a solid routine for kids from hard places is very helpful. This book is written by a mom, who gets at the heart behind a schedule- namely mortification- self-discipline to promote Godliness.

Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control: Volume 1 by Heather Forbes

Is a how-to book in dealing with specific issues experienced in adoption. The premise of parenting from a place of love instead of fear is very freeing. I think that this book is a good first step to many of the behaviors addressed, but I would guess that there needs to be a certain amount of self awareness from the child to be able to have the discussions used as examples in this book. The biggest take away from this book is that children are not trying to be manipulative, but their behavior is the only way they know how to express what is going on inside.

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim Payne M.Ed., & Lisa Ross

Again, this book is not about adoption, but deals with… simplicity in schedule, stuff, and making sure that there is a solid connection and grounding for children. The thing that was an eye opener about this book lies in the introduction; the author talks about how he was doing some work at a refugee camp in Africa and was treating kids with PTSD, then after that he started a private practice in the states. Through his practice he started to see that children in the US were exhibiting some of the same behaviors as the children from the refugee camp… mainly because of the pace and disconnectedness that so many children grow up with in their homes. My fear is that many children are adopted out of their original culture, and then through another environment do not give them the connectedness and grounding that they need, so the underlying issues are not addressed just masked.

The Connected Child : Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family by Karyn Purvis

This is one that I am planning to read along with the workbook by Karyn Purvis; found here http://empoweredtoconnect.org/created-to-connect-study-guide/.

The Biggest Sin in Adoption

We have met our son, FINALLY seen his sweet smile, squeezed his small body, got lost in his big eyes and then had to say goodbye for 5-10 weeks. Every time I think about leaving him that last day tears come to my eyes; we walk with him toward the lunchroom and his breathing becomes great heaves. Josh and I are trying to hold it together and not have a complete melt down in front of our son, who has lost SO MUCH, and now probably feels like the hope that he may have found in a relationship with us is being ripped away from him. We help him wash his hands, and instead of his lighthearted smile and willingness to obey, he is in a fit of tears and his legs won’t support him… we kiss his sweet face and walk away. The nanny explains we will be back, but how can a 4 year old know that in his heart. So again because my arms are too short to change anything in this process, we pray; that he doesn’t lose hope, that when we return he doesn’t reject us because he has felt abandoned by us, and that our hearts will be ruled by peace and patience as we wait.

This is the part that gets me, being ruled by peace as we wait. There have been times in this waiting that I have gotten caught up in the frenzy of wanting to know what is going on, following other people’s journey forward and feeling forgotten, and it. has. been. sin. Before we traveled to meet our son, we were waiting on a piece of paper from a government official giving us the clearance to travel, as we waited I begged God that it would come through. One morning I woke up especially early and prayed, I watched the sun rise and was reminded of  what we tell our kids… see that light from the sun, it is so bright that it is hard to look it, that is what the glory of the Lord looks like…

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That morning I was reminded of the truth that God’s ways are above our ways, that He exists outside of time and He already sees it as done. The timing of the thing that I was so anxious about, God already saw as DONE. Thinking in that way helped me to not just cling to the peace that I knew I should have, but actually live in it.

We are in a time of waiting again, this is some of the most painful waiting we have had to do up to this point…

I am reminded of God’s heart toward us, His calling us and desire to be in relationship with us, and because of his patience we have salvation (2 Peter 3:15). My desire through this is to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity (2 Peter 3:18). If I fall into the sin of worry, control and lack of peace, then I am not pressing into God’s heart for me or my son, who is not orphaned because he is OUR SON NOW, but feels orphaned. There is a longing in my heart that can very easily cross over into the sin of worry, but if I feel that and see it through God’s heart toward those who have not crossed over into His family I am more likely to live in His peace.

Isaiah 53:5 says,

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

If I am not living in peace then I am neglecting the very crucifixion of Jesus, and I think that is the biggest sin in adoption.

How we Spent our Time in Ethiopia with our Son

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Many of you have asked what our time with our son was like while we were in Ethiopia. In 2 words: too short, but in actuality we spent everyday with him at the transition home, usually twice a day for … Continue reading

My Arms are Too Short

Last week we got an email that our sweet Mamush had conjunctivitis, so he got eye ointment, it cleared up. This week we got another email saying that he is on a round of antibiotics for pharyngitis, which according to the internet is a sore-throat. I know that it is a small thing, but can you imagine your child not feeling well and you can do NOTHING. I wish I could have brought him home last week so that my arms could hold him while he isn’t feeling well… but my arms are too short.

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In actuality, my arms are too short even for the kids under my roof. Even if I can hold them and kiss their boo-boos and tell them how much I love them, my arms are too short to save their little souls. So I do, for all of my children, the only thing that I can- I cry out to God. I don’t always pray like I want to, like my heart says I should, but that is changing and I know that a prayer can be answered if it is asked in the chaos that is my life, or in those serious times of fasting and solitude. Right now the prayers made while over my kitchen sink with the kids’ noise in the background will have to do. And I feel like God is pleased. Image

(A woman waiting to be healed at the church on top of EntotoMountain; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

I pray that He is pleased to heal Mamush of the discomfort that he is in, that his little heart does not lose hope as he waits for us to return, and that at our return he does not scorn us because he has felt abandoned by us. I pray that Nehemiah continues to meet developmental milestones and we are not burdened by the relationship with his Birth-mom and Birth-dad, but are able to extend grace and know our role.  My prayer for Ashton, is that He will continue to develop into a man of character and substance. For Gavin, I pray that his spirit for adventure and attention does not distract from the calling that you have on his life, that he is able to submit that to You for Your Glory. Ava’s heart is so sweet and helpful, I pray that You would protect it from the arrows of the evil one, and that she is able to grow into a strong women, who’s confidence is not in herself, but in You. Image

(Walking into the church on top of EntotoMountain; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

This is a great place to start praying daily for your children: http://www.inspiredtoaction.com/wp-content/uploads/kat/I2A_Prayer_Calendar.pdf

If you would like to help us complete our adoption and bring Mamush home as we travel back to Ethiopia in 5-10 weeks, you can donate here. At last count, we still need to raise $5,000.

Meeting our Son who we Didn’t Know Much About…

After 24+ hours of travel we were breathless with anticipation as we got off the plane in Ethiopia… trying to navigate buying a visa, getting through passport control, finding our luggage (almost), filing a claim for our lost bag, talking with a retired gentleman who moved from Ethiopia to the US (he was a God-send), and getting through customs with our 3 boxes of donations. We were finally there, after 3 and a half years of paperwork, phyicals and more paperwork, God was fulling his call on our life.

We stopped at the guest house (gh) to drop off our things and brush our teeth, then we were off to the transition home (th). We had 30 minutes to meet our son before we would be whisked away to an authentic Ethiopian meal with entertainment! Talk about pressure, 30 minutes to meet our son and convince him that we were cool enough to parent him for the rest of his life! Thankfully we packed balloons and bubbles, the love language of small children from 3rd world countries.

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Introducing Mamush, soon to be Judah! You may notice that he is not looking at us, he is looking a Champ, the man behind the camera. He was unsure of us and was looking to the only other person in the area that was vaguely familiar to him.

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After reading about other people’s adoption journeys; we decided that it would be a good idea to bring a backpack with goodies that we could use each day. That way Judah could associate it as his, and we can bring it back on our second trip, with more “goodies” for him as we travel the LONG way home. It was a great tool in connecting…

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I am not above bribing with balloons! Notice that his body is starting to relax and he is not as stiff. Mamush’s first language is a tribal language, his second language is Amharic, and he is working on his third language English. Needless to say, he is a little quiet, and has no clue what we are saying!

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Notice how he is copying my face while blowing up the balloon! Priceless!

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Playing bop-balloon with dad helped to warm him up.

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Finally, we got smiles! This is something that we had long waited to see. All of the pictures that we had received of him are very serious and unsure. We knew that his little heart was at least comfortable, if not warming, toward us. Oh, the joy of a mother’s heart.

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And finally, eye contact. It is very hard to express in words the feelings of our first few hours in Addis Ababa, meeting our son. He was loved by us the moment we started the adoption process, it has been a long journey here, but he will forever be well worth the wait.

We will return to Ethiopia in 5-10 weeks to bring him home with us. We still need to raise $5,000 for this trip. If you would like to be a part of bringing him home to our family, you can give (tax deductible) here.