Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
"brother moments". Just lately, Caleb has especially become somewhat jealous of the attention that Noah is receiving, and quite often I find both boys in my lap holding on for dear life
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Since we have been home, I have been trying to recover from jet lag, feel better and learn how to be a mom to two boys :) I really wanted to update the blog, but it just got pushed aside- I have a feeling blogging, checking email, etc. might take a backseat for a while :) More about what the last few days home have been like in a bit......
Monday-Wed. In Addis:
Our last few days in Addis went well. We passed through the embassy with no problems at all. Noah was very patient as we waited our turn and he did great. Once we were able to take Noah with us to the guest home, he really did well- much better than I could have imagined. He seemed eager to go with us, which helped defeat a big fear of mine ( I really feared he would not want to leave his current surroundings). He allowed us to play with him and interact with him and we only had a few moments of what I would call "shutting down"- at bedtime, and when I had to correct him or tell him "no". All very, very understandable. He was, and is, a very brave little boy. We also learned that is he is a very smart little man. While at the guest home, he wrote all his ABC's on his own, and his numbers 1-10. He even learned to write his name "Noah" in just a few tries! The language barrier was not as big of a problem as I had imagined. With just some gesturing and motions, he seemed to understand most things I said to him, and he follows directions very well.
A few of the highlights-
Layla House (the orphanage where Noah lived) gave him and another little girl who was going home to her forever family a goodbye party. It was very sweet, though Noah did not like all the attention. When it was his turn to go to the front of the room, he almost began to cry and would not leave his chair. He is not one who likes to be the center of attention, this is something I have learned.
Seeing Noah eat french fries and ketchup for the first time. I truly believe he had never had this this yummy treat, and it was a blast getting to watch him enthusiastically dip the fry into the ketchup and take a big bite :) He loves french fries and ketchup!
Another favorite memory was seeing his eyes light up when he saw some of the airplanes at the airport in Addis, and especially when he realized he was getting on one of those big planes! He poked me in the side and pointed to the planes with a big smile.
I also have to say something about my amazing travel buddy, Tennille. I don't know what I would have done without her. Besides just having a great lifelong friend accompany me on pretty much the ultimate road trip, she was an amazing help to me. She interacted so well with Noah- he really liked her! There were times when I needed to do some paperwork , or when I needed to take care of something, or just when I needed a break or to take a shower, and she was there. I am so thankful and appreciative for her willingness to go with me and for her friendship.
We arrived home on Thanksgiving Day about 4pm, after about a total of 18 hours in an airplane! Yikes! That is a very long time! Noah did unbelievably well! He slept for the first portion of the flight (about 7 hours!) and the remaining time played his handheld game, drew with markers, and practiced flash cards. He was a trooper! He did better than most adults would have for that long of a time! The last hour was a bit of a struggle, but by that time, everyone was ready to get off the plane.
When we arrived at the airport, he was excited and almost seemed to know that he was about to meet the rest of his family and see his daddy again! He was smiling and running and skipping through the airport. Once he saw them, he did get a bit shy, and I think was somewhat overwhelmed. Caleb was also a bit shy but warmly welcomed him. It didn't take Noah too long to warm up.
I have to admit, it was my first ever Thanksgiving dinner at Steak n' Shake, but it was a wonderful one! Caleb and Noah got along great and were already playing well together. Noah had no problem at all devouring the new American food! He also did fine on the trip home from Cincinnati- he and his brother slept most of the way home :)
Once home, Noah slept some more, and we actually had to wake him up! The poor little guy was exhausted. It was a really awesome sight to actually see Noah lying in his bed. Finally!
The rest of the day was spent playing with toys and his new brother. He really did great. He had a fun bathtime with his brother and went to bed with no problems (of course, we all did that night :)
To be honest, we were expecting the worst, but our first evening/night home, everything went pretty much as well as it could have. Praise God! Things are still going well. Caleb and Noah, for the most part, play very well together. There have been lots of laughs and smiles, and a few fights and tears, but that is to be expected with brothers :) Caleb is doing a wonderful job of being a "big", little brother. He is a great helper.
Don't get me wrong, everything is not perfect. We can already see lots of issues we need to work through, and we realize, we have a long way to go. It is very hard at times, I admit. We knew it would be hard. Already, I have felt some discouragement and uncertainty. But, when you consider what Noah has endured, it would be unrealistic to think that there would not be some truly hard issues to work through. Today, for example, has been very challenging for everyone in terms of behavior. There are lots of moments of joy, but also moments of frustration for Noah, for Caleb, and for us, as we try and work through fear, transitioning to a new family, and the language barrier- it is difficult, but not impossible to work through, thanks to the love and strength that God provides us, each second of each day. I have already been in contact with adoptive parents who have adopted children that are Noah's age, and just knowing they went through the same issues and same feelings is such a comfort.
It is going to take time, patience and lots of love and prayer. But it is so worth it! We know this. And we truly hope that each day Noah feels our love and the love of God.
I am not sure when my next update will come, but just keep us in your prayers as we learn to live together as a family of 4 :)
Monday, November 22, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
We were disappointed, to say the least when we received this news, but we trust God and know He is truly in control. Please pray for good news this week!!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
In the most recent turn of events, the embassy again rejected our case "as is" and asked for the judge to basically "re-approve" our case, which she did today. Though initially there was a paperwork mistake made, the most recent delays have been because of more stringent investigations by the embassy. They are really going over everything with a fine tooth comb, it seems. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it inevitably will cause delays.
In Noah Nigus' case, the circumstances surrounding how he came into orphanage care complicated his case. Often times, adoptive parents do not feel that they should share the details of their child's history, and I very much respect that decision. We have always been open to sharing about our son' history, for whatever reason. Maybe it has something to do with me being adopted, and always knowing about my birthparents, and being okay with that? I am not sure. Anyway, we know nothing about Caleb's first 6 months of life, other than he was abandoned at around 6 months of age and found by a police officer. To be honest, we did not know many details at all about Noah's history until just recently when all the paperwork issues arose.
Now that we know more, it makes this incredible opportunity for us to bring this child into our lives even more special ( I really don't think that word can adequately describe how we feel about it). What we do know is that Noah Nigus was living on the streets with his mother before she died. This alone is heartbreaking, to think that this family had no home, no where for them to rest, to be warm and safe. No where for his birthmother to even die. I wonder, often, if he watched his birthmother die. The Bible study group I am in is currently doing a 6 week study with the Book, The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. I have mentioned this book before, and I will take just a moment to mention it again- it is incredible, and you really just need to read it. Seriously. In the book, Rich Stearns visits with a family of three boys in Uganda who had to bury their own parents who died of AIDS. They also cared for them before and during their death. While Rich Stearns is meeting with these three precious boys, he asks one of the boys if he has a Bible, to which they boy responds by running and getting his Bible. Rich then asks him if he can read it, to which the boy responds, "I love to read the book of John, because it says that Jesus loves the children". At this point, Rich can do nothing but weep at hearing this boy who has lost so much speak with joy about Jesus' love for him, and at the same time realizing, how he, Rich Stearns, had pretended not to know about the suffering that exists in the world. Every time I read this part, I weep too. And then I think about Noah Nigus, and I can do nothing but cry more, as I think about what he has endured in his 4 short years on this earth. But joy comes shortly after my sadness, because despite all his losses and all the grief this boy has experienced, soon and very soon, God's redeeming love is going to allow him to have a family here on this earth, and to one day have a heavenly family for all eternity.
And it is only because of God's redeeming love that in our darkest times, in the midst of our sin, our despair, our loneliness, that God sent his son to redeem us, to bring us into his family and to call us sons and daughters! To show us the unconditional love of a perfect heavenly father. Praise God! You see, that is what is at the core of adoption- redeeming love.
Prayerfully tomorrow I will post an update that we will be leaving very soon!
Monday, November 1, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
We really had a blast this Halloween! Caleb decided he wanted to be a dinosaur (originally we bought this costume for Noah- we missed him so much!) instead of Scooby Doo. So, a dinosaur he was! I think he made a pretty cute one :) Not only did we have fun trick or treating, we also had a great time making Halloween cookies, and carving pumpkins.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Thankfully Tuesday afternoon our agency contacted us with some good news, Praise the Lord!!! They feel that MOST LIKELY the case can be completed satisfactorily in two weeks, which would allow us to attend embassy on November 17th, and would have us leaving for Ethiopia in a little over two weeks! This is great news as we feared it would take several weeks before we would be able to attend embassy. Of course there is no guarantee of anything, but they seem very positive and we, too, have a spirit of peace and contentment with this news. Praise God!
Despite our frustration and disappointment during the last few weeks, God is truly in control and does have a plan. A dear friend stopped by our home Tuesday night and shared with us what God had been revealing to her about suffering. While I wouldn't call what we have been enduring the last couple weeks "suffering", I think the same wisdom she shared applies to our situation. The last thing most of us want to do when faced with difficult circumstances or situations is to embrace or welcome the hard times. But isn't that exactly what we should do? God's word tell us in 1 Peter that the grief we suffer from various trials have come so that our faith, which is of far greater value than gold, may be proved genuine and may result in bringing praise and honor to Jesus Christ. You see, the more trials that come, the more opportunities for God to refine our faith, and make us more like Jesus. This is such a hard attitude to have in the midst of suffering, I will be the first to admit. Sometimes I feel like the man who called out to Jesus in Mark 9:24, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!"
Last Sunday we began revival services at our church. We had our final service last night. I can't tell you how God used these services to speak to my heart, and I don't think anyone would deny that God is moving among our congregation. I have been so challenged, convicted, encouraged and strengthened. And it could not have come at a more pivotal time in our lives, as we prepare our home to welcome another precious child, another son that God has entrusted to us on this earth. The focus of the pastor's sermons were largely on the spirit of God and prayer. Oh how we need to surrender our lives to His spirit each and every day (and for me, each and every second of every day :) I know that I can not be the wife, mother, daughter and friend I want to be without allowing His spirit to have free reign in my heart and mind.
Prayerfully we will have more good news to share soon, and of course some Halloween pictures of Caleb, uh, I mean Scooby Doo coming soon :)
Friday, October 22, 2010
We have no idea if we are going to be able to travel at the end of October, but I will say, it is not looking good. We are truly praying for a miracle at this point. Praying that the embassy will have understanding and compassion on our case, and not require us to start over with MOWA .
It is not an exaggeration at this point to say that if the embassy does require MOWA to issue a new recommendation, it could take several weeks before we would be able to travel, and we would be fortunate for Noah Nigus to come home this year.
This is all very discouraging news, but we still trust that God is in control of this decision, and we are striving to not let Satan create doubt in our hearts and minds, but I will honest, it is a battle right now.
Thankfully tomorrow we have the chance to do something we really love to do- tell others about adoption! We are leading a seminar at our church for families interested in international adoption. Funny timing, huh?
Despite all the heartache, the emotional roller coaster, the frustration and disappointment that the adoption journey can bring with it, we would undoubtedly do it all over again. Why? Because the joy of knowing that you have been given the opportunity to show Christ's love to a child that has sacred value to the Creator of the world just somehow outweighs the other stuff. I can't explain how, but it just does. It isn't always easy, but it is Christ's heart. His heart is with the orphan, this we know. And the miracle of adoption is truly that, a miracle.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Fall is definitely upon us, and I love it! It is my most favorite time of the year. I love the colors, the smells, the family gatherings, the crisp, cool weather, football....I love it all! Of course, this fall is extra special as we will be adding a member to our family very soon :) We hope that Noah Nigus will feel comfortable enough to participate in all the fun fall activities, like going to the pumpkin patch, trick or treating, fall festival at church, etc, but if he does not, that's okay too :) We know coming to America is going to be a huge adjustment for him, and these things might be too overwhelming. Just in case, though, Caleb did help me pick out a Halloween costume for him- it is a really cute dinosaur costume. Maybe he will want to go trick or treating, or maybe just stay home and hand out candy. We'll see!
Fall also reminds me that winter is not too far away. I really don't mind winter, I actually like cold weather and snow. And I love Christmas time!! And, just like fall, this winter will be extra special as we will celebrate not only Caleb's birthday, but Noah's as well during the month of December. The only thing I don't like about winter is that it reminds me of how fast the year has gone. This year seems to have gone faster than any I can remember! It has been a great year, and I feel so blessed as I think about God's faithfulness to our family and how he has cared for us in our times of need. We have watched Caleb grow and change and become such a big boy. He is such a fun little guy to be around and I love being able to have conversations with him and play games with him. And of course God has allowed us to venture down a totally new road with our second adoption, which has been very challenging, but also very rewarding and fulfilling. We are beyond excited to begin our lives as a family of four in just a couple weeks!! I say all this to say that as I look outside my window at the beautiful fall leaves, I just have to thank God for all the ways in which he has blessed me. Not because he has to, but because he just wants to.
My prayer is that I will be all I can be for Him for the rest of the fall and winter of this year. I want to be a patient, kind, and always loving mother to Caleb and Noah Nigus. I want to be an encouraging and loving wife to Zack. I want to be a caring and helpful daughter to my parents and in-laws. I want to share my passion for adoption and the poor with whomever I can. This is my prayer for the rest of the year.
Now, if you would be so kind as to remember these very specific prayer requests for our family for the rest of the year, we would greatly appreciate it!!
-prayers for safe travel for Tennille (my friend and travel buddy), Noah and I. We leave on Saturday, will spend a night in Dubai, and reach Ethiopia on Monday. We will leave Ethiopia on Friday, October 22.
-prayers for Noah Nigus as he leaves all he has ever known and enters into a totally new world
-prayers for Zack and Caleb as they wait for us to return
-prayers for Caleb as he adjusts to no longer being the only child. Please also pray that he will accept and love his brother quickly, and that Noah will also accept Caleb quickly
-prayers that Noah will be able to communicate with ease, as we see this being one of his biggest challenges in coming to America
-prayers for Noah's health and for the team of health care professionals as they direct his care
-prayers that Noah will be able to receive the love we have to give him
Thanks for all the prayers in advance!!! The next post will probably come from Dubai on Sunday!!!!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
For me, it almost seems surreal, as until around 4pm today we were unsure if we would be going in October at all. I did not want to even begin thinking about Noah having to stay in Ethiopia into November. Now, we won't have to. God really worked this situation out as only he can, and we praise him for that. The immigration officer who was in charge of our case began communicating with us on Monday, and she has been awesome!!! We are thankful for her willingness to see the urgency of our case.
We know that in less than two weeks our lives will change forever. In the midst of our excitement, there does still linger some fear and anxiety, but nothing that us and God can't make it through together. We are so excited for Noah to have a family to love him and care for him always, and so honored that God chose us to do so!
Last weekend Zack and I spent some time on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, where we met and later both graduated from. Because we were supposed to have left for Ethiopia last weekend, Caleb's nanna and papaw had planned a fun trip for him during this time, and even though we didn't leave for Ethiopia as scheduled last weekend, he still wanted to go with his grandparents. So, Zack and were all alone this past weekend. Though we missed Caleb so much, we had a great time together. Actually, we had a blast!!! We went to a movie and dinner, and we also went to a football game at EKU. We walked around campus together, and even visited our campus apartment (all 400 sq. feet of it) where we first lived after being married. Then we drove by our first house. It was a great weekend. As we were driving through Richmond and reminiscing about old times, I just marveled at the path that God has led us down. I would have never imagined it, but I also wouldn't want to change one part of it! It has been the most amazing journey! I am so thankful. We are so blessed.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
This evening, we were given the tremendous blessing to speak to a sweet and precious church about adoption. We originally had prepared to speak to the youth group, but when we arrived, they asked if we could speak to the church- of course, we excitedly said, YES I had prepared a short slide presentation of our time in Ethiopia and then 3 major Biblical points about adoption/orphans- our spiritual adoption, what God says about the orphan, and what He expects us to do. The church received what God had to say through us with such love and grace. The whole experience was just such a blessing!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
As soon as I found out the dates, I called Zack and emailed our amazing travel agent. I then immediately began praying that God would lead us to make the best decision for our family. I prayed that he would make it abundantly clear if we were too not choose the sooner date. Of course, we instinctively wanted to take the soonest date. We want to be with Noah Nigus as soon as we can. However, after praying that God would lead us to make the best decision, I began to realize just how extremely crazy the next week would be. First of all, we have yet to be able to spend a night in our new home (we are dealing with a non-functional shower, and it is the only one in the house), and we were really hoping for a little time there so Caleb could adjust to his new home before he also has to adjust to a new brother. Also, there are lots of loose ends I need to tie up at work (and if we left in a week I would be working every day, and probably on the weekend too :). And finally, the flights are several hundred dollars cheaper in October. So, after much prayer and thought, we have decided to choose the October date. It is only two weeks later than the original date we were given, and we can live with that!
It is so refreshing to actually have a "for sure" date that we can plan for. Tomorrow is our shower at church for Noah, and we are super excited about that as well.
To continue to prepare for Noah's homecoming, I have been reading a book called The Connected Child. It is a book for anyone who has welcomed children from adoption, trouble backgrounds, etc. It is written by an amazing Christian doctor with lots of experience in adoption and child psychology. It has been so helpful and has helped us prepare for what we may or may not face once Noah comes home. We also continue to pray for God to open his heart to us, and for our hearts to be understanding and patient with him as he adjusts to a totally new life. It is our honor to be his new family! We are so thankful.
I have also been speaking (via email) about how to facilitate changing Noah's name. For a child that can't yet understand English, how do you explain to them that there name is changing? We thought strongly about not changing his name and pronouncing Nigus
(which is pronounced Ni-goo-so in Amharic) as Ni-jus. I really love that, and we did decide to keep his name with that pronunciation as his middle name. But, as a first name, we were just too worried that people would pronounce it completely wrong, and that could be bad (just think about it). Anyway, thankfully I have received great advice from other parents that have successfully changed their children's names. Their advice, which makes perfect sense, is to begin calling the child by their American first name, and incorporating their Ethiopian name into their middle name. So, for example, when we address Nigus, we will say, "Noah Nigus (but pronounce Nigus with the Amharic pronunciation).
Tonight while we were working some more on our house, Caleb was playing in his and Noah's room and bouncing around on his bed. I looked over at the other bed. It looks really cute as it is decorated with a cute comforter and pillow (thanks mom). But one thing is still missing :) How awesome it will be to look into this cute room and see both my boys!