Last April a group of five families adopting from Ethiopia gathered in Louisville at an Ethiopia restaurant to meet one another and encourage one another along in the adoption journey. At that point, none of us had received a referral, but a few were very close! This past weekend those same families, plus a new family whom are just beginning their adoption journey gathered once again....only this time, all our children were there as well! How wonderful it was to get to meet the precious children we had only dreamed about at out last meeting! We had a great time catching up and just admiring the beautiful children. It was so fun to just watch the families and their children interact- and to watch the kids interact with each other. Thanks to Pete Juvinall for the great pics!
from left to right, Caldwell, Juvinall, Bowman, Moles & Redfern kiddos!
We spent the night with Zack's college roommate and best friend John and his wife Megan. Caleb had a great time with them and their dog Tyler and we really enjoyed catching up with them as well. Finally, yesterday, we had our annual Memorial Day picnic at church- good times!
It was a fun filled weekend, but not one to be taken lightly by any means. We remember the sacrifices, bravery and courage that so many have given as we enjoy the amazing freedoms we experience everyday. Thank you! May we always remember......
This past weekend we had a wonderful visit with Zack's family in Ashland. We miss seeing them so much!! Caleb had a great time with his granna, papaw and auntie Micah. He loves them so much and especially loved playing outside in the nice big yard with Jetta the dog. Here are a few pics...so sweet!
And, here is a video I have been meaning to post of our sleepy boy....Is he really sleeping or just practicing his acting skills? You decide :)
The Semlow Family has got to have one of the most amazing, trying, and unbelievable adoption journey of any that I have heard. This precious family is adopting a sibling group of 3 (amazing enough!) and were originally in our second court date group (December 2, 2008). Due to circumstances that you could only imagine in your worst nightmares, they are just now in Ethiopia picking up their children! That tells you part of their story! The faith, courage, and commitment this family has shown the last 5 months despite their heart wrenching wait has been so inspiring, challenging, and refreshing! I implore you to read their latest blog post and see that even now as they are with their children, they are still depending on God's strength and faithfulness as they encounter trials and tribulations. Visit their blog by clicking here....you will be glad you did!
Second, it seems like a dark cloud has settled on Ethiopian adoptions, at least for some. A few days ago, MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) issued a decision that will indefinitely freeze adoptions of abandoned children only- not children who have been relinquished. Why? It seems that so many children are being abandoned that MOWA feels they are unable to adequately investigate the circumstances of the abandonment in such a way that would determine if the child is a true orphan (this is my best understanding). Because of this, they are refusing to write the needed letters of recommendation for these children, which will result in the families not passing through court. Some parents with AWAA found this information out literally the day before they were supposed to have their court hearings. I can only imagine their disappointment and sorrow. There is no time table as to when this decision will be repealed, so these families are left with only God to cling to during this time of indefinite waiting. Our prayers are with them and their children.
Today Zack and I have been married for five years!!The above pictures were all taken over five years ago, before Zack and I were married...during our crazy college days....we sure do look a little crazy in some of those pictures. Oh the memories! I can't believe how much older we look now....in just five years??!!!
Anyway, back to the serious stuff :) I have been reflecting a lot lately on just how much my husband has meant to me over these last five years. He has always provided me with love, laughter, and wonderful companionship, but these last four months he has been so strong, gracious and loving. Probably because he knew how much his wife needed him as she adjusted to a totally new role- being a mother. The thing is, he was adjusting to a new role as well- actually new roles-being a father and starting a new job. But he never complained, seemed overwhelmed or had an emotional breakdown :) He has been so selfless. He was my rock, along with Christ. And what a wonderful father he is! Caleb loves him so much and he loves Caleb so much as well. He often says of Caleb, "I can't believe he is my son- he is amazing!"
Just a couple days of ago, I was talking to Zack, discussing with him the challenges of motherhood. I think that day I felt like I was lacking in the mommy department :) He stopped me as I was walking away and said, "Rebecca, I will never quit loving you." At that moment I knew I had the capacity for losing it, but I tried to hold it together, just as I am trying to do right now :) My heart melted when said that....How blessed am I?
Never in my wildest dreams, even as I stood before friends and family 5 years ago could I have imagined loving this man as much as I do. Nor could I have imagined being loved so deeply by him. I am overwhelmed with gratitude at how God orchestrated our relationship, and I pray that he continues to lead us and guide us- I know he will. Thank you Zack for all your love. I love you.
While Zack and I were still in the adoption process, we were made aware of an urgent need for formula in the orphanages in Ethiopia due to the ever worsening and complex economic issues in Ethiopia. Thankfully, many people joined together to raise a huge amount of money for the transitional home and many other families took large donations of formula when they traveled to Ethiopia. This sustained the shortage for a short time, but there continues to be an urgent need. I know it is difficult for us here in America to understand the reality and urgency of this need, but I have seen with my own eyes the effects of malnourishment. Some of the children we held in Ethiopia were fighting for their lives. Thankfully many of these children will eventually be placed in forever homes, but while they are waiting, nutritious formula is their lifeline!
Malnutrition is real and it is heartbreaking, and it is something that we must work to eliminate! I have never shared this photo with anyone other than our closest family, but I felt led to share it just to show the difference that proper nutrition can make. We don't believe that Caleb was malnourished to the extreme that many of the babies are, but it is obvious from this photo that he was far from healthy. This photo was taken as soon as he was brought into the orphange after being found abandoned.
Of course, you know what Caleb looks like now :)
That is why I have added this link: http://tomdavis.typepad.com/tom_daviss_blog/formula-drive-blog-buttons.html. This is a link to the blog of Tom Davis, author of many books including "Fields of the Fatherless", which I have personally read. He is an amazing advocate for orphans and is doing all he can to work on their behalf. Please look at it. If you can help at all, even just by donating a few dollars, please do! It is easy- just click on the button on the right side of the blog-the button that says "Urgent Need". You could literally be saving the lives of many children! Thank You!
Yesterday Caleb turned 17 months old! Wow! This last month we have seen so many changes in him! Of course, he is learning new things with each day, identifying new objects and beginning to say new words. He is really starting to just babble and babble- I love to hear him! Sometimes he talks so fast and uses his arms and hands to express himself that he looks like he is casting some sort of spell :) He is also learning to climb up and down steps and we really think he is fearless sometimes...he has had a few bumps and bruises due to his adventurous spirit. He is becoming so much more independent now also- he loves to try to do the things that mommy and daddy do and gets a little upset if you interrupt him:) He also likes to play by himself some of the time and even feels secure enough to do this in a separate room from us when he wants. He is a wonderful helper, and likes to help me do the laundry, vacuum, and is very willing to clean up his messes- he is a great little guy!
We also are starting to see a few signs of the "terrible two's"- (which by the way do begin before the 2nd birthday, according to most child experts...and I would agree :) It's not really bad yet, I think we have had only a few occasions where an all-out, lying in the floor tantrum has occurred. He definitely understands the meaning of the word "no", and is also beginning to understand that there are consequences to his actions. So, the fun is just beginning in that area :) I wouldn't trade it for the world!
In the video I posted below, Caleb is engaging in one of his new favorite activities- feeding our dog Pooh his dog food. Caleb loves Pooh! They are going to be best buddies, I know it! The first time I saw him doing this, I thought it was just the cutest. I never thought if might get out of hand and end up with Caleb wildly flinging Pooh's food all over the place :) We are working on that :) The video is kind of a before and after- you'll see...I had to stop midway for some instruction :) He caught on pretty well and at the end ..well, you'll see:)