Friday, May 28, 2010

bedtime story

As I tucked the boys in for their naps today and they asked for a story. I told them...

Once upon a time there was a little boy in Ethiopia who didn't have anyone to take care of him. Then he met a nice lady named Miss Joy. Miss Joy picked him up and gave him a big hug and a kiss. Then she told him, "I know a mommy and a daddy who want YOU to be their son and two little boys who want YOU to be their brother." The mommy and daddy and two boys were so excited to meet this little boy and bring him into their family.

Me: OK boys, sleep tight.

Dexter: That's not the end Mommy!

Me: Well, I don't know how the rest of the story goes yet. But I hope it will go like this: Then the little boy came home and they all lived happily ever after.

Dexter: (thinks about it for a minute) But you forgot the scary parts Mommy!

I had to shake my head... he is right. We have no idea what kind of stories these next chapters will hold -- whether they will be happy, scary, frustrating, joyful, or all of the above. All we know is that God is writing our book and that's good enough for us.

[Note: I should add that after the above exchange between me and Dexter, Nate piped up and said "The scary part was when he didn't have anyone to take care of him." Well said, buddy.]

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

the dotted line

We signed a referral today!!!

While our hearts were still healing, God took our hands and led us to a beautiful little 13-month-old boy. This all happened much more quickly than we expected, but we are THRILLED and so thankful to God for bringing us to this point.

In a previous post I mentioned a government agency closure that was holding up paperwork on most of YWAM's waiting children. Most... but not all. Our little guy is all ready to go, just waiting for us! Our dossier is already in Ethiopia, so when the referral documents arrive in the next week or two everything will be in place for the in-country agency staff to request our court date. Here's a tentative look at how long things may take from here on out (# of weeks listed is how long each step will take, not how many weeks from now until we complete that step):

1-2 weeks: referral documents arrive in Ethiopia
2-4 weeks: receive assigned court date
4-6 weeks: travel for court date
4-12 weeks: return for embassy appointment and to bring home our boy!

The Ethiopian court system shuts down for 1-2 months beginning in mid-August, so we are praying that our court date will be assigned for sometime in July. That is a best-case scenario, with a more likely scenario being a court date in late September or early October after the re-opening. We are trying to remind ourselves that we're dealing with the government of a developing country and therefore anything could happen... but we're also hoping and praying that this little boy will be in our arms SOON!

Thank you for all your prayers for us in this process, especially over the past few weeks. The only explanation we have for this awesome new development is that many, many, many people have been praying. Thank you, and thank God!

Friday, May 21, 2010

a little taste

We have been eating like kings and queens lately, thanks to a few of our generous Ethiopian friends.

I have been spending a lot of time with my friend from Nate's preschool, Chereka, along with her daughters and other family members who are always stopping by to visit her. Chereka is simply incapable of seeing me without giving me food to take home: big tupperware containers of wat and stacks of injera... Mmmm! She is also teaching me a few words in Amharic every time we hang out. So far I have the vocabulary of a 12 month old: hello, goodbye, thank you, Mom, Dad, yes, no, and I love you.

Nate and Chereka's daughter Hareg on a school field trip this week

One of my parents' friends, Nibret, is an amazingly talented chef, nutritionist, and cooking instructor (who also happens to be from Ethiopia). Last night she prepared a huge feast for all of us and then we shared the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. She roasted raw coffee beans on the stove, then we all helped grind them with a mortar and pestle, then she used a traditional Ethiopian coffee carafe to brew it. Even my coffee-virgin husband thought it was pretty good! We also had fun watching traditional Ethiopian dances on YouTube. It is amazing how rich and diverse the culture is -- over 80 different tribes and people groups inhabit the country of Ethiopia, each with their own language, traditional dress, music, and customs. Learning and experiencing a small taste of these things makes me so excited for when we finally get to GO!

Nate grinding the roasted coffee beans

Dexter taking a turn

My mom gets in on the action

Thank you Nibret!

Monday, May 17, 2010

ready and waiting

Our dossier arrived in Addis Ababa today. That sentence deserves an exclamation point, but I can't get muster up a whole lot of excitement about it right now. It is exciting, but it feels bittersweet too -- another reminder of how ready we are. Ready ready ready. Yep. Ready, and waiting.

Most of the children in the YWAM Widow & Orphan homes in Ethiopia are also waiting -- waiting on the Ministry of Women's Affairs to re-open so their paperwork can be processed. Very few referrals are possible until the office re-opens, and there's no hard evidence about when that might happen (though we are hoping it will be soon after the big elections in the country on 5/23).

In the meantime at least somebody's excited:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

grieving me

Grieving the loss of something you never really had is a strange kind of grief. (Though I'm not sure any grief feels normal to the one who grieves.) As I continue to process the events of the last few weeks, I am noticing that the things I am grieving are all about me. I don't grieve for the sweet girl we aren't adopting, because I trust that what is happening is best for her. I am left to grieve the loss of my hopes and expectations... the way I thought things would happen... the things I imagined... the plans I made... the way I told everyone it would be.

Losing these things hurts. A lot. But they are not the things that define our story. Our story is not about my expectations, or what I told people was happening, or how I have imagined the future.

Our story is about running after God into Ethiopia and bringing home our child.

And that is still happening. We are still following God. We are still adopting a beautiful child from Ethiopia. God continues to write our story, not always the way I want him to, but the way he knows it should go.

So yes, it hurts, but I am confident that the things I have lost are things I needed to lose. I needed to lose my dreams and plans and expectations to make room for the reality of how God is moving in this process. Those things weren't bad or wrong or misguided... their time is just up. What will God bring in their place? Where will he take us next? These questions are now our prayers. Please pray with us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

not to be

Today we got an email from CHI letting us know that they will not be placing the 6 year old girl with us. Although we pretty much expected this news, it hit hard and our hearts are heavy.

It would be easier to make a list of things we're sad about, but here is a list of things we are thankful for.

* We believe that the staff of CHI considered this carefully and had the best interests of the child and our family in mind when they made the decision.

* The email we received was gentle, thoughtful, thorough, specific, and in many ways actually encouraging to us, despite the heart-breaking news.

* CHI and YWAM are working hard to find the right family for this sweet girl, a family with seasoned parents whose other children are already grown.

* God will bring us our next child in His good time. We know that CHI and YWAM will do their best to help us find that child and bring him or her home. This is a bump in the road, but it is not by any means the end of the road.

* While we wait we also savor this time as a family of four, enjoying our sweet boys as much as we can. We are so excited for the next phase of our family's life, but we also recognize that it will never be the same after we add a new Ballast into the mix. These waiting days are long, but they are special too.

For now, please continue to pray for us: for our grieving and healing, for our wisdom and understanding, for our openness to God's will, and for our trust in His provision. Thanks.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

like my mom used to say

...every day is Mother's Day. I used to think she was just saying that so we didn't feel guilty for not making a bigger deal out of it. Now I'm pretty sure I know what she means -- my children give me reasons to thank God every day. They hug me, kiss me, and tell me they love me every day. What more could a mom ask for?

Today, like every day, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my two boys... and today I am also overwhelmed with longing to meet the one who waits for us. Thankful and hopeful, full and hungry, happy and wistful.

Happy Mother's Day.

Monday, May 3, 2010

referral limbo

Sorry to leave you all hanging for a few days. Here is what has been going on.

Our agency, YWAM Ethiopia, is a licensed adoption agency in Washington. However, since they are not licensed with the Ethiopian government, they have a partnership with another agency (CHI) which is licensed and authorized to legally process Ethiopian adoptions. Although CHI does all the official legal paperwork, YWAM basically does all the relational, interpersonal stuff. They work directly with the families and children in their program and then, at the proper time, recommend adoption placements. YWAM recommends the placement, sends all the appropriate documentation to CHI, and CHI issues the official referral paperwork and handles the legal processes that follow.

A week and a half ago, YWAM requested that CHI issue us a referral for a 6 year old girl. In the three years that YWAM and CHI have been working together, every YWAM referral recommendation has been honored, so when our YWAM director called us on Friday morning with the news that the CHI social worker had decided not to approve the request we were shocked. After lots of tears and prayers, we knew we could not give up. We were not satisfied with the reasons given and felt that our situation warranted additional consideration, so we put together a letter and sent it to the executive director of CHI.

This afternoon she replied to our letter, saying that she would review our case along with the information in our letter and would have a decision for us by the middle of next week. We are so thankful that she is willing to look again and make sure that their decision reflects the absolute best choice for all parties involved. In the meantime... PLEASE PRAY!

-Pray for God's wisdom and guidance for the directors and social workers of YWAM and CHI.
-Pray for this sweet 6 year old girl, that God would provide a loving family for her, even if it is not ours.
-Pray for us - for patience, trust, and openness. Pray for the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts as we wait.

Thank you so much for walking this road with us. Your prayers and support have been a life-line for us, and a constant reminder that we are not alone. You are with us, God is with us, all will be well. Amen.