Tuesday, October 25, 2011

house of babel

i have pictures now to prove that we are all home and i've not hurt anyone being a single parent of 8 for the last week :)

too late, too tired to write much....but did want to say that tonight something cool happened. we were doing our evening Bible time and the devotion was from John 13. i've had lydia read a couple of nights from her amharic Bible so her and abe could understand what we were talking about. then i realized that abi could read it from her chinese Bible. and then sam in english. as i watched everyone sitting there listening, i watched smiles exchanged between several of them while each was reading. it was just one of those moments where everything came together and God's faithfulness was evident.

our first pics of everyone! had a great overnight with my sisters at Spring Mill and a couple of the pics cracked me up! personalities can be seen in some :) all in all, the transition has been crazy, unbelievably easy. i am pooped at the end of the day, but then again, i'm old :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

setting yourself up for failure or victory?

by golly, the Lord continues to teach me new things! and I listened :) today was a better day. i think jet lag is starting to subside. physically, i felt much more like myself. coffee was involved as you probably guessed.

on thursdays, our schedule is so predictable it is almost comical. we are a stalker's dream. probably not a politically sensitive comment, but you get my drift. we are boring people :) we go to piano lessons from 9:30-12:30, we eat at asian buffet for lunch (once in awhile we go really out on a limb and do taco bell instead), and we go to the nursing home to be the eyes and ears for the BINGO players at the nursing home. but backtrack first. last night after church we, as usual, hung out and socialized for a l.o.n.g. time. abi wanted to go up and get the 4 youngest from their upstairs classroom. when we come out into the lobby from actual adult conversations in the sanctuary, i find 7 of my kids playing tag. really playing tag. inside at church. after yesterday's post, let me just say i've never been a fan of kids running at church. my mom aside. just don't think that is the place. i felt very defeated yesterday. defeated, incapable, pick your own word. it wasn't just that. it was 100 little things i had let take over my spirit.

so, back to where i was on our predictable boring life. as i sat in the car this morning at piano, i read my Bible and prayed for God to give me discernment about whether i should forge ahead with our regular routine by golly or if He had some other advice. and He put into my heart "don't set yourself up for failure. get a victory." He knew i needed a small victory. so i decided that going home for lunch and having over easy eggs and toast was just the thing. since it was pretty much all we had, it sounded even more perfect :). and i decided to take only 4 to the nursing home, 2 or which were abe and lydia. and they did incredible. and i walked out feeling like i could do this mom to 8 thing i've been called to. i set realistic expectations and it worked! i'll build up to 8 :) at once later when i feel like a superhero.

and today, i had some sweet comments from friends and a couple of sweet emails, texts, and calls from friends that just did my heart good. if you've walked this road, you know exactly how an email or text or comment can just meet you right where you are. it makes you feel supported, loved, not crazy :)

and none of the old (elderly, to be more politically correct) folks at the nursing home made any racist remarks..... which i was a little concerned would happen. they are all white (or whatever the politically correct term is, still not sure on that one) and of a generation that can be very anti-anything but white. but it was not the case at all! everyone was totally loving abe and lydia! and that did my heart good.

and i went to five or six hair salons trying to find someone to do black (ethnic to be politically correct) hair. and in this all white county, there ain't much demand for it. but a lady at one of the shops called a friend who called a friend and i'll be if flo didn't call me and say 'get that girl in here!'. so lydia got her hair trimmed washed, oiled, and a simple braid. and abe got his head oiled :)

and thomas, sam, and abi kicked butt and took stinking names in the soccer tournament tonight and won 3-0 in a shoot-out. after a really dismal season, this victory was suh-weet!!!

so thank you Jesus for speaking to me today and giving some small victories that were very much needed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

how many adjectives to include in a blog post title?

p.s. as in "pre-", not post-script. whatever :) i did this entry backward as that is the state of my brain right now. i wanted to include a couple of pictures from the day their birth mom came to the transition house. and a few random flying home pics too.

happy. exhausted. blessed. overwhelmed. awestruck. frazzled. thankful. exhausted. oh, wait. already used that one :)

if i could string together more than a few coherent sentences at one time, i could write a heckuva blog post. i've had a ridiculous amount of thoughts in my head and i keep putting off getting them on paper. but since we've been home five whole days, i want to capture at least part of them before they fade completely.

so i don't forget. one thing i love about adoption trips is knowing that you are really being prayed for. you are on your friends' prayer radar. and it is wonderful.

abe and lydia are doing really really well. compared to how i know it COULD be, i am blown away at how easy they are. i could be way wrong, but i think they just have easy personalities. lydia is goofy extraordinaire and beautiful. abraham is more subdued and wants to please. i am so thankful for their easy going ways on many levels, but right at this moment, my gratefulness is in large part due to my lack of energy, passion, excitement. holy moly. if they were high maintenance, i would have crashed and burned. jet lag has scored another victory with me. in july, it took a full week before i felt semi-normal (relatively speaking :) and i anticipate i've still got several days to go before any notion of hyperactivity comes from me. coffee is not even helping. that says alot.

but i have learned several things this week, in spite of being exhausted. i've learned that 8 kids is a big jump from 6. i'm not sure why certain increases in number of kids seem bigger than others, but it is true. and this was a big one for me. and i've learned that 8 is loud and chaotic (especially when there are three sets of virtual twins). sometimes, it is quiet and how i treasure those moments :) and i've seen myself be overly-stressed when we are in public. actually, church was incredibly sweet sunday morning and the soccer field is big enough that i don't feel frazzled. but...we went to the airport monday night to greet new kids (yay! nyah and jayce!) and i felt completely overwhelmed. i couldn't even truly enjoy myself because i was trying to keep track of everyone and make sure they weren't on the floor or running around like crazy people. abe and lydia have not been taught the difference between places you can be crazy and places where you shouldn't. and you can't really talk with them beforehand because they have no idea what you're saying. like the majority of parents, i hope my kids act well in public....but the more kids you have, the higher the likelihood that that is not going to happen. or is it? maybe i will think differently in a couple of months. the irony for me is this: my mom was always super concerned about appearing 'good' in public. and it made me sad because she missed enjoying kids because of this. she had so many wonderful qualities that i am incredibly glad she passed along, but this is not one of them. and i think i may have it too. when you adopt kids who don't look like you, you stand out automatically. i want people to think favorably of adoption. and then i think.....and you want them to think favorably of you. ouch. this is really something the Lord has pointed out to me and i have to trust He will faithfully remind me to please Him, not others and to understand i am training these little people and not trying to win a parent award in the eyes of others :)

my wise sister told me once 'don't take credit for the good they do; otherwise, you also have to take credit for the bad.' yip.

anywho.... overall, things are better than i would have expected at this stage. everyone is getting along pretty good. abigail's 13th birthday was tuesday so we stayed at the super 8 to swim and have fun; the next night, nobody had gotten enough sleep and there were some ugly mouths and tears (and it wasn't me! yay!) but i think it was due to fatigue and not necessarily adoption woes. but i do know that we are in a massive state of transition. i would be kidding myself to say our family is not going through a huge change. because we are. and it is exactly what we wanted. until you are in the throes of it, you forget each time just how upside-down things are for awhile. a new normal will fall into place eventually :) in the meantime, i need to chill. and sleep. and trust. and be thankful for eight healthy kids all under this roof tonight.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

happens everytime

i seriously have a love-hate relationship with travel. i love it. i hate it. how can that be? everytime, i experience insane homesickness. i always appreciate america so much more when i've been away from her. her cleanliness, her clean water, her clean air, even the ridiculousness of much of our ways. it is still home. and i miss it. and we won't even go into how it is to be away from our kids. because that is pretty much indescribable. and everytime i have these feelings, i vow to be more present with them. more in the moment. less on my agenda.

and then there is this everytime we adopt: 'what was i thinking?' ' what have we done?' all the questions of 'what if' i can't do this mom of 8 thing? what if they massively rebel and tear apart the relationships of our kids already at home?" what truly astounds me is how the Lord so quickly replaces my thoughts with ones that please Him. last night, greg was having all these feelings, and i knew exactly how he felt. because i have felt them every single trip. i can feel absolutely mortified. paralyzed realizing that there is no turning back. and God then floods me with His answers, not mine. i can't explain it other than i know that it is Him. because, me left alone with my thoughts, can be scary. but He doesn't leave me alone with my thoughts! He reminds me that this is not about me, but about Him. it is not about me keeping a neat and tidy life, but one that may be very very messy at times. adopting older kids is the best of times and the worst of times. i literally have to make the choice to see all that is right. i cannot worry about abe and lydia and their adjustment in one week. one month. i just will concern myself with today. and today they are awesome! and excited :) this morning, i thanked the Lord for everyone of you who will walk this with us; praying for us, and not judging while we make this transition into a new family with lots of colors. if you ask me 'how is it going?', you may get a sense that everything is crazy easy.... and then again, you may not. i have asked God countless times this week for extra extra grace and supernatural energy and His peace. counting on all those things in the days ahead (and for the long long flights ahead).

and i am so very grateful that abi and i have not gotten sick at all. a ginormous praise! greg is not faring as well. the pollution has taken a toll on his respiratory and something has settled into his lungs. he left this morning and i know would be thankful for a prayer...

yesterday was the day. i know i will not be able to adequately describe all that transpired. i hope i can remember it in my heart forever. {there was something that happened though that could have overshadowed all the good, but i've made the decision to move past it as i should. it had nothing to do with the mom. it has to do with someone outside (and not reflective in any way of our agency) who allowed sin to get the best of him. as a mature Christian, i pray he has repented. and a lesson for me to take away is to remember that our character and testimony are constantly on the line. one bad decision can erase all the right things we may have done before.} as i said, moving on .... the mom is exactly as i remembered her. as nutso as this may sound, she and i could be good friends. we click. i know girls can understand this. maybe guys can too :) you know how there are some people that you just flow with? well, she is one of those for me. i just simply like her. she came with the orphanage director, her brother, and her son (the one who had been the shepherd after being gone for so many years) who is 15, almost 16. the kids were very happy to see her! i was glad for that. they walked them all around, showing them their sleeping room and the play area. i walked far behind them. i felt like an outsider, but knew full well, i should. this is their time. she will never have this with them again. and that absolutely breaks my heart. they came back in and we gave the mom a nice big photo book that she can treasure in the days ahead. we gave the older brother several gifts and he was very appreciative. i really liked the uncle. i could tell he got a kick out of me. i don't think he has been around many crazy white women like me :) hoping this doesn't sound prideful, but i think he liked me. i think he knew i loved these kids and will be a good mommy for them. we had brought uno cards for the brother and i thanked God many times over for putting them in the wal-mart check out!!! all of us sat and played uno for hours. literally. played before lunch. played after lunch. played until they had to go. there is nothing like easing the tension, breaking past language barriers, like a good ol' card game. i have no idea where this tradition started in our family (does everyone do this?) but when you win a card game, you lick the winning card and stick it to your forehead. i will forever smile when i think of their mom with an uno card stuck to her forehead and just smiling from ear to ear :) :) double happy face. we also spent some time with a translator just asking each other questions. as much as she knows it, is still hurts her to realize she has broken all legal relationship to them. they will always be her kids in her heart, but she had to make the decision several year back to let someone else provide for them because she simply couldn't. and still can't. it stinks. but we are all committed to making beauty from the ashes. it was a day that i think we will all remember with great love.

and everytime we adopt, i personally have moments of total joy and how fun it is to be so silly and goofy with your new kids. they love crazy :) last night, abi, lydia, merone (an awesome 12 year old who is waiting for her family to clear embassy) danced our hearts out. lydia mahilet has got the moves going on!! they (tried) taught me african dance and i taught them the can-can and a few other silly moves. we had such girl fun! when it was time to finally call it a day, all the workers and care givers were hanging around outside, so we put on a performance for them. a vision they will not soon forget, no doubt :) all while singing "my soul my soul must sing, my soul my soul must sing, my soul my soul must sing, to YOU. beautiful One i love, beautiful One i adore, beautiful One my soul must sing!!!" i absolutely cannot wait until we sing that at church because i cannot wait for them to look at me like "hey, we know that song!!!!"

and a gestsure was made to lydia and abe that was just wonderful -- all the workers pitched in and bought them traditional ethiopian dress. i was so so humbled that they would do that.

we brought cake mixes and the cooks made them (using orange fanta, nonetheless) and we had a little party in conjunction with a coffee ceremony. all the kids came in, and we did crafts, and had fun making a mess of epic proportion.

all in all, we couldn't have asked for a more special day. as hard as it was, it was necessary for all of us. i know abe and lydia will always remember the love we showed their first momma. God came through just as i trusted He would, as He has done everytime before.

and now to pack!!!!

p.s. so sorry for not including pictures, but promise to upload the 1000s of pictures abe has taken :) once we are HOME!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

seeing things from a different perspective

hit the mother lode.... access to internet twice in one day! score! sitting here in the family gathering area again and getting a huge kick out of abe and lydia. let's just say they like to take pictures and videos of anything and anyone. lydia is a crazy girl full of personality :) and abe is gaining confidence by the minute...

today woudneh took us on a long long drive east. we went to an absolutely beautiful part of the country that i had no idea existed. it gave me a completely different impression of ethiopia. when we were here in july it was before the rainy season and we went south. it was dry and brown and barren. but today was green and rolling and as picturesque as they come. it is known as the dairy area because the majority of addis' milk comes from here. everywhere, in every direction, were shepherds with their herds of cows and goats. you would see anywhere from 5 - 100 animals with 1-2 shepherds. some shepherds were lying on blankets, some leaning on their staffs, and others were smacking the snot out of them trying to get them down the side of the road. what a simple beautiful life (except the smacking the snot out of them part :). it especially hit home having found out their older brother had been a shepherd for years. it was like this for hours. just leading their animals to grazing places and watering holes each day. and the best part? fresh air!!!! i am not kidding when i say addis' air is unbelievably polluted. all the diesel trucks running continuously and i really can't describe the filth you are breathing in. when you blow your nose, it is .... okay, i will spare you the bloody details :) last trip i remember thinking many times about giving these kids fresh air as one of the better gifts they will get coming to the States.

and the other thing i saw today from a different vantage point is the reality of all the expense associated with an adoption agency doing the in-country work. we stopped by woudneh's office where 9 workers are doing paperwork and running all over trying to get the documents through all the gazillion hoops. and in ethiopia, the agencies have the added expense of providing completely for the kids from when the family passes the ethiopian courts until the case clears through the US embassy. this can be anywhere from a minimum of two months through a long stinking time. they work hard to care for the kids and earn their money the old-fashioned way. i'm actually surprised it doesn't cost more.

well, that's all i got for today. we are enjoying the kids singing 'God is so good' while dancing african :) what a special time. they are very affectionate and just happy and goofy. i pray the jet lag doesn't kick my bootie like last time 'cause i'm thinking i'm gonna need all the energy i can muster.

p.s. birth mom comes tomorrow. dani, we are baking cakes with fanta for a special celebration with her :)


sitting at breakfast at the transition home enjoying great fellowship with woudneh and bette. i am becoming a morning person, whether i want to or not :)

super quick update while i have a laptop. the kids are amazing! we are staying with them here and so we see them all the time. little abraham samuel is so excited to come home and yet so scared we are not taking him to america. he needs regular reassurance. when i told him that his birth mom was coming to see them on wednesday, he gave me a look of sheer terror. very sad face. in my best body language, i explained that she was only coming to say good-bye before we left for America. he then gave me the thumbs up. lydia mahilet, on the other hand, i think will have moments of great sadness upon leaving. the caretakers here think she is a rock star :) she will be missed. i wish she could understand that there is a very good chance that she is going to love home; but she will just have to wait and see for herself.

will get details hopefully tomorrow but woudneh told us that the kids' older brother was actually stolen at a very young age and worked for years as a shepherd. the birth mom found him only recently. the mom is also not working at the orphanage anymore, but woudneh is not sure why. praying tomorrow will bring some answers (and hopefully some great photos too :)

and the drama for yesterday was that greg either a) lost, or b) had his passport stolen. gotta love that big ol' disheveled guy :) that or hurt him. woudneh took him to about 12 offices yesterday and his new passport will be ready today. we are pretty sure it could be at the hilton where we stayed our first night here using greg's gazillion hotel points. so our free night's stay really ended up costing $135 :)

we had our embassy appointment monday morning and we are done! we just wait for their visas to be issued by tomorrow. yay! the foreign US embassies that i have been to are interesting places. think BMV and there you have it. all the anticipation of having your adoption complete and you sit with dozens of others waiting for your number to be called :) woudneh said he has never had a case clear as fast as ours did. not one single question was asked on any of the documentation and they did not request an interview with the birth mom. i told woudneh that i would be sure to ask the lady at the window if she was sure everything was good and they hadn't missed anything. i assured him i was kidding :)

yesterday, as we were driving the insane streets of addis, we saw a toyota land cruiser. woudneh did the conversion and said it cost about $261,000 US dollars. he said 'poor country, expensive cars, go figure." he said he paid $21,000 US for his 14 year old van.

thanks for the comments and emails. yes sandy, the kids are wonderful :) while we are anxiously counting down the days until home, i remind myself to enjoy not cooking, not doing laundry, and spending hours coloring, building legos, and playing balloons. laying in bed and reading at nighttime has been pretty awesome too.

talked with carrie and amy and the kids yesterday and everyone is doing good. did my heart good to hear it. if you have prayed for peace for me while i'm away, thank you because God has given me a peace that i know is of Him. i've had some nice time with Him too and know that He has given us more gifts in these children. and as i've pleaded before, if you have ever even sorta kinda thought of adopting an older child, do it. they want a family so badly. woudneh said they all think they are not worthy. nothing is further from the truth.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

the blessings of strangers

one of the things that i love about traveling are the opportunties to meet some really neat people. everyone has such a unique story. at the atlanta airport, we meet a nice guy who works for Boeing and is headed for afghanistan for two months. he has five grown kids and is super hoping to be back in time for Christmas (he was in Iraq last year at Christmas). We talked about adoption, the Lord, and prayed together. If you would, pause just for a minute and pray that Brian gets home for Christmas. he was a good and bold Christian. and we also met a lady headed for amsterdam whose husband works for an oil company and is in vung tau, vietnam for one year. vung tau is phoebe's hometown. that is the second time in less than a month to meet folks with a vung tau connection. in 2.5 years, i've never met anyone who has even heard of it.

and sat by a neat guy named ben :) on the plane, a banker, who has adopted from here. he was leading a team of people who are here for a medical mission. they will provide care and dental extractions to street kids through a local program led by ethiopians. this is his sixth trip here. the ministry he leads is called The James Project (after James 1:27). abi and i went through customs and baggage with this group and it was awesome to be with believers with the same heart.

and this morning at the hotel's breakfast, greg had gone done first for coffee, and meet a guy from malaysia. he asked why we were in ethiopia and told greg he wanted to get his computer to show him something. when we all went back down to eat, he was waiting with a clip from a talent show on TV about a boy who had been adopted from iran. he and his brother had been born with severe hand and feet deformities and a lady had adopted them. he was trying out for the show and all the judges were in tears listening to his story. we sat and talked with this gentleman for an hour about all sorts of things. he is also in the oil business. abi wrote some chinese and they talked a little cantonese.

yip, one of the blessings of traveling to other parts of this small world is meeting people.

in about 2 or 3 hours, Lord willing, we will see abe and lydia. i told greg that i anticipate being mobbed. in a good way :)

p.s. to care bear and amy -- you're the best.