Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wow- in only a few day Noah will have been home ONE MONTH! We can not begin to tell you the difference we see in him, and in us, each day! He is beginning to speak more English words such as water, juice, chicken, ketchup, ice cream, bath, and just today he started saying, "this, this?" I had to laugh as I know he has heard us say that a million times, trying to figure out what he wants :) He seems to be feeling more and more comfortable with our family, and vice versa. We are also beginning to see more of his true personality. He is so silly and can have the funniest expressions sometimes!

Noah is still very reserved around new people and is obviously uncomfortable in new situations. But, that is also improving. He is now at least waving hello and goodbye, and sometimes even says the words.

One thing that seems to be apparent- the "honeymoon" phase between Noah and Caleb is over :) They are full fledged brothers now and fight like they have been together their entire lives! They also have a great time playing together, but anyone with two boys understands what I mean :)

I really can't put into words what the last month has been like: challenging, exhausting, rewarding, overwhelming, amazing, fun. Yes, that seems to describe it. There is no doubt about it- adopting an older child is most definitely challenging, but it is also very rewarding.
We are really looking forward to celebrating Christmas this year. Caleb and Noah were both in the children's Christmas play last Sunday. They were wise men. They did great! I think Caleb is now at an age where he can begin to understand what Christmas is all about. We are not sure what "firsts" Noah may experience this Christmas, but we are just thankful he will be experiencing them with us!

Noah's ultrasound came back normal, and this week he has a very important appointment with the infectious disease doctor at UK. We should know so much more after this appointment.

Well, that's all for now. Praying you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Two Weeks Home......

Tomorrow Noah will have been home for two whole weeks! Overall, he is doing really well. Actually, exceptionally well :) I will be honest- the first week was rough, and we were basically in survival mode. We went to bed every night exhausted and sometimes wanting to cry :) But, we hung in there, continued to establish boundaries and rules in our home, and lovingly, yet firmly let Noah know that he would be expected to follow them. It was, and sometimes continues to be a hard balance to find, a balance between grace and structure/obedience. However, when we are tempted to let our frustration control us or to lose our patience, we stop and think about what Noah has endured, just in the short time we have known him. Who knows what he has experienced before then. Our goal is to show him love and to be a source of consistency.

The last couple of days, we have seen smiles most of the time, and he is even beginning to call us "mommy" and "daddy". Just today he also reached for me to carry him and to hold his hand. This is huge, as until today, he had not ever asked for any type of physical interaction with me. I loved it!!!

We have seen progress in Noah's behavior- the "meltdowns" as we have come to call them are for the most part less frequent and don't last near as long as they use to. They mostly occur when we ask Noah to do something he doesn't want to do, like quit playing to eat dinner or go to bed. All very normal. We can still see that Noah is still working through some grief and anger, and most likely will continue to for several months. His whole world has been flipped upside down and we know it will take time for him to see that we are going to be here through thick and thin, loving him and supporting him.

He and Caleb continue to play well together, though they do have their very normal
"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
Today Noah had a visit at the International Adoption Clinic at the University of Kentucky. We were literally there almost five hours! We met with an occupational therapist, physical therapist, medical doctor, and also had lab work done and a chest x-ray. It was a long, but productive day. The occupational therapist was very impressed with the skills that Noah possesses, and she said he is right on track if not beyond where he should be. That is awesome news and we are very blessed. The physical therapist also said that Noah was right on track.

Dr. Taylor (the international adoption specialist) was very pleased overall with Noah's health, though she was concerned about a few things, mainly Noah's distended stomach and lungs, so she ordered a chest x-ray and also an abdominal ultrasound, which Noah will have later in the week. We already heard back from the chest xray and everything is fine. So now we just wait to have the ultrasound done. In the meantime, I will also be sending in poop samples. Yep, I said it. It's not the most glamorous job in the world, but it is part of being a mommy :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Finally....An Update!

Sorry there has not been any posts or updates in a while! After my last post from Addis, my health declined, and I just did not feel like posting! Plus, I was trying to spend as much time with Noah as possible. Thankfully, upon arriving home, I was able to visit the doc, and get some much needed antibiotics, and now I am feeling much, much better. Becoming sick in a third world country really made me realize how much I take for granted our easy access to good health care and effective medications.

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.

Arriving Home......
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

Our Time in Addis- Sunday
We arrived in Addis early Sunday morning after our flight from Washington was about three hours later than expected. The reason? It was the first ever flight from Washington of an Ethiopian Airlines 777, and it was a very big deal! They had a ceremony in the airport in DC, gave out free food, cake, etc. You get the idea. Once we boarded, we found that our seats were occupied by someone else- apparently a computer glitch :) Thankfully they found our seats, but we waited another hour before we actually took off. The only thing that mattered to me was that we landed safely in Addis. We then waited about two hours for our visa. By the time we had claimed our luggage, found a taxi and made it to our hotel, it was about 2am, and we had been awake about 36 hours. So, we had no trouble sleeping :)
We woke around 8am or so, had breakfast and went to the International Evangelical Church. Zack and I had visited this church during our first trip to Ethiopia. It was a great service and very encouraging to me, especially, as after lunch I would be going to see Nigus. I did not know how he would react to me after I was gone for such a long time, and I admit, I was worried.To add to this, during the flight I began to lose my voice, and also developed quite a sore throat. I was not feeling well.  But during the praise and worship time, I just lifted up my concerns to the Lord, and by the end of the service, God had refreshed me and renewed my strength.
After lunch we went to Layla House. Nigus was in his class, and as soon as I saw him, he smiled at me, which relieved all my fears! He had not smiled more than a couple times our entire first visit. He seemed very eager to see me and as we went outside the class, he seemed like a different child then the one we left months earlier. He was interacting very well with the other children, speaking and laughing. I am so thankful! God is so faithful!
We spent a few more hours with Noah on Sunday, then we visited AHOPE, an orphanage for children with HIV. There is a very special boy there that I was given the privilege of delivering a care package to. Hopefully he will be at home with his family soon. While we were there, the children, dressed in their traditional Ethiopian outfits sang, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands". It was beautiful!
After that we ate dinner (pizza, yum!) then retired early to catch up on some sleep. Our first day went really well, and I am very thankful! I will find some time to write about today's events soon!

Referral Received for our second son from Ethiopia! Waiting to bring him home.....
Home with our son, Caleb Samuel, from Ethiopia
Adoption is a GOoD thing :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Today was Paus' funeral. It was a beautiful service, and we so appreciated everyone coming to show their love and admiration for Paus and our family. These next days will be tough without our Paus, but we know we will see him again.

As we were leaving the funeral home and driving to the cemetery, I checked my email because I knew if we would hear any news today, it should have already been in my inbox, as the news comes from Ethiopia sometime during our early morning (Ethiopia is 7 hours ahead), then our agency passes along the information during their morning time (their office is in Washington state), which is our afternoon (you can see how working with three different time zones can also add to the frustration :)

I had two emails from our agency, both with subject line "Caldwell Case". My emotions were already running high, but of course, this made them run higher! I said a quick prayer in my head and opened the emails. To my delight, the first thing I read was They are free to travel!!! My heart raced, but there was no date in that email to tell when were free to travel! I quickly skipped ahead to the next email and read something that said that if we could get there in time for the appointment on Monday morning, it was ours!

I was a little shocked and mumbled to Zack, "We can go this weekend!" We both sat stunned and Caleb, from the backseat asked, "Are you going to get Noah?" I could finally say "YES!!!"
We drove just a little further and I began to cry thinking about God's timing and how perfect it is. I told Zack, through tears, how God knew that I needed to be here these last few weeks to help support my family, and especially my mom, who had been Paus' main caregiver and had carried much of the burden as he became ill. I knew in my heart that for me to be away and traveling would be so much added stress for her, but at the same time, I did want to bring home Noah as soon as possible. God, however, in his infinite wisdom and in a way I will never understand, knew exactly when the time would be for us to leave and bring Noah home- the day after my grandfather's funeral. As humans, we can only look back and see how God weaves together the events and circumstances in our lives into a beautiful tapestry that glorifies him and works together for our good. But he sees things from a different perspective, and I so grateful for that. May I always trust in the Lord and his ways, even when it doesn't seem to make sense.

We will be flying from Cincinnati tomorrow evening to Washington, DC. Then we will be flying directly to Ethiopia. It is a very long flight, around 16 straight hours on the same airplane! Prayerfully we will arrive in Ethiopia on Saturday night.
Please pray for Tennille, my great friend, and I as we travel. Please also pray that Noah will be prepared for all the changes that await him. And please pray for wisdom for me on the plane ride home as I try to reassure and comfort Noah, even though we can not speak the same language. Please pray that God would break down any communication barriers. I will try to update as much as I can.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Saying Goodbye (actually, just see you later :) & Adoption Update

For the past few weeks my grandfather, who turned 91 in August has been very ill and in the hospital. Yesterday he passed away and went to his eternal home. I, along with my parents and some other family members were able to be present as he passed from this life to the next. He died very peacefully, just as he had hoped.
Paus, as we called him, was the most hard working man I have ever known. From the time he was a boy growing up on a farm, to when he served his country in WW2, to his long and successful career as a carpenter, and even up until the last few weeks of his life, Paus worked hard each and every day, and gave his best in all he did. He was also a kind and compassionate man. It didn't take much to bring a tear to his eye. Just a few days before he passed away, he was asking me when we would be able to bring home Noah, and I think I saw his eyes get watery :) He was so worried about us, his dog, his friends the entire time he was in the hospital. Never once did I hear him complain or grumble about his condition. He was a man who was ready to enter eternity.
He was so special in so many ways, and we already miss him. However, we know he is having such an awesome time in heaven reuniting with my grandma and so many others who have gone on . Most of all, he is in the presence of his Savior. And we rejoice in that!
One of my favorite passages that speaks about death is 1 Thessalonians 4:13 which says we who are in Christ don't have to grieve as those who don't have any hope! We can grieve with hope, because we know that Paus is with God, and that one day, we will join him!
Adoption Update- They (US Embassy) still do not have all the paperwork they need/want to issue Noah's visa, but they should have it this week. We will most likely not know until Friday if we can travel this weekend. Honestly, the chances are slim for us to travel before Thanksgiving, but there is still hope, and we are praying for a miracle! If we don't travel this weekend, we are looking at a December 1 Embassy date. We really want to travel before then! On a side note, I just can't help but think that all these delays have been so I could be present for my family during this difficult time. God's timing is perfect, and we continue to trust that.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Quick Update....

Just a quick update- Sadly, we are still in the US :( The embassy has not yet made a decision about our case. We do expect to hear something Monday or Tuesday. If they approve it, we will be traveling Friday to Ethiopia. Because the week we will be there is the week of Thanksgiving, we will only be in country from about Sunday to Wednesday- a pretty short trip.

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

Tomorrow is the Big Day ....& God's Redeeming Love!

Well, tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow we will find out if we will be able to travel this weekend to bring Noah Nigus home. If we are given approval, we will actually be leaving Friday! Good thing I never unpacked our suitcases :) The emotions I am experiencing right now are all too familiar. Yep, I had those same feelings almost two years ago, as we waited to hear if we had passed court for the second time and would be able to travel to bring home Caleb. They are hard feelings to describe, but basically are a mixture of excitement, anxiousness, nervousness and fear. That about sums it up :)

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

An Exciting Way to Support Our Adoption and Give Great Gifts!!!

If you want to give the gift of books to the children you love this Christmas, we have an exciting opportunity for you to purchsase some great books, and support our adoption at the same time!

Thanks to Usborne Books, 50% of the sales from today until November 12 will be given towards our family's adoption expenses! Simply visit this link:
then start shopping! It is easy at that. Usborne has a wonderful selection of children's books, including some great Chrismas books, craft books, and cook books. There easy to use website allows you to find just what you are looking for! You purchase the books online, and they are delivered directly to your door!

Here are some of our favorites:

Remember, you must start shopping by clicking on the link above for our family to receive any proceeds. Please feel free to pass this information along to anyone who would be interested. Also, if you would be interested in hosting an Eshow for us, simply email me and let me know. It is simple, free, supports our adoption, and you can earn free books in the process!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Fun!!

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.
We would appreciate your prayers this week for all that is going on in Ethiopia regarding Noah's case. We know this week will be pivotal in terms of making sure the right paperwork gets completed so that our embassy date for November 17th can be scheduled.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Embracing the Hard Times

The latest update is........Monday morning we found out that the embassy would not accept our case "as is" and decided that whatever the judge ruled should be the procedure that is followed . Of course we were very disappointed as we knew this decision would increase the time that Noah would be away from us. The hardest part of the news was that our agency (whom we appreciate being very honest with us) informed us that they could not predict a time frame for correcting the case and traveling to Ethiopia, given the fact that these new guidelines were so new they had never had to operate under them. Monday we felt very discouraged and honestly didn't have a lot of hope of bringing Noah home anytime this year.

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

Praying for a Miracle.....

We did hear news this evening from our agency, which we are thankful for. Unfortunately, it was not good news. The judge was presented with the new information and she is now expecting MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) to issue a new recommendation of adoption. This would mean MOWA would have to reopen our case, review it, and approve it again. This would be very time consuming and about the worst thing that could happen at this point. Our agency's attorney is suggesting that we take our case to the embassy and ask them to accept the adoption decree as it is. Monday they will contact the embassy and present this request to them. Hopefully it will only take a few days for their decision to be made.

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

Still in the USA :(

So, I was hoping my next post would be from Dubai, but I am actually typing this post from my bedroom. Yep, we did not get on a flight today to Ethiopia. Why, you ask?

Well, at about 1:30 pm yesterday afternoon while I was at a local pumpkin patch / farm with Caleb on a field trip, I received a phone call from our adoption agency. I didn't answer it, because honestly I didn't know the number , and for those of you who know me, I hardly ever answer my cell phone if I don't know the number, and I honestly don't do a good job of answering my phone even when I do know the number :) So, I waited to see if they left a message, and they did. I played the message while Caleb was playing on the playground, but all I could hear was that it was our adoption agency, and something about a travel delay and our son's birth father. Major freakout! Major!! I immediately called Zack who had just left and told him to call our agency, as I didn't have good reception and would be boarding a school bus shortly, as we were ready to leave the pumpkin patch. I did not know what to think at this point! I was supposed to be leaving in 24 hours to bring home our son!!!!

What we came to understand is that there is an error with paperwork regarding Noah's birth father. The police report says he is deceased, the orphanage paperwork says he is unknown, which apparently is the correct status. But, they have to match before the embassy will issue Noah a visa, allowing us to enter back into the USA. This is usually an easily resolved issue, and in fact, we didn't even know anything about the discrepancy in wording until yesterday! In our case, the person who was responsible for making the change (should have been done almost two weeks ago)in wording simply didn't do it. That's it. Just a simple mistake. We all make them, but this one really stinks!

So, we canceled our tickets (not cheap, but thankfully we were able to pay a fee and have them completely refunded) and have tickets on hold for the next embassy date, November 2. Prayerfully, we will know at the beginning of next week that the issue has been resolved, and we will leave for Ethiopia on October 30.

At first, I admit, I was angry, but God helped me work through that pretty quickly, reminding me, as I mentioned above, that we all make mistakes. Now, just disappointment and still a little shock remains. We just were so looking forward to having Noah home. When I told Caleb I wasn't going to be able to go and get Noah as planned, he said in a very distraught voice, "Oh, no!". I explained to him Noah was coming home, just not as soon as we had thought. I think he is pretty disappointed too.

So for now, we continue to pray for Noah, pray that this issue will be resolved, and pray that God will help us be patient through the next two weeks.

In the meantime, we are enjoying our time as a family and this beautiful fall weather. God is good.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fall Blessings, Fall Prayers.....

The most recent picture we received of Noah Nigus! He looks so grown up and mature in this picture! Caleb likes to look at pictures of his brother, and when he saw this one, he said, "He's bald!" I told him that was okay, that he bald once too :) We love Noah and can't wait to bring him home!

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

Our Tickets are Booked, Bags are Packed (well, bags aren't packed quite yet :)

Praise the Lord, we finally received the news we needed today, and we were able to confirm our travel plans to bring home our son!!! We WILL be leaving Saturday, October 16 and returning Saturday, October 23. Our embassy date will be on Wednesday, October 20, and after passing through the embassy, Noah will be with us for good! He will not have to go back to the orphanage ever again. What a day that will be. Praise the Lord for his redeeming love!

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

Not the Best News....

Well, we got some disappointing news today. The embassy in Ethiopia still does not have our updated approval information from USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), so this means that until they have it, we can not go to our embassy appointment. The chances of us having it in time to leave for our original embassy date of October 6th are basically ZERO, so this means we will now have to wait until October 20th to attend embassy. Major bummer! Though we are super sad, we are most upset for Noah, as he must continue to wait for us. We wonder what he is thinking?? We pray someone is explaining to him why we haven't come for him yet. It is really hard for us to be here without him.

The issue has something to do with the fact that we are living with my parents, and thus the home study was conducted with all four of us, instead of just Zack and I. If there are any individuals in the home over the age of 18, they also have to be interviewed, fingerprinted, etc. for the home study. This was done, and everything was documented in our home study, so we really are at a loss as to what else USCIS is needing, but we pray it is something simple that can be added to the home study and sent to USCIS asap so that we won't be delayed any longer! Please pray with us that this can happen. If for some reason they wanted my parents to have additional background checks (we have no reason to believe this) it could delay the process several more weeks. We should be receiving a letter tomorrow or Monday telling us what they need. Wow, what a ride adoption is!

Some good news, however, is that one of my best childhood friends, Tennille, has agree to accompany me to Ethiopia! We were originally planning on Zack going, but after some thought, it seemed to make more sense for him to use his time away from work spending quality time with Noah, instead of traveling. However, it isn't the easiest thing in the world to find someone willing, able, and actually interested in going to Ethiopia :) But, Tennille is, and we are both so excited!! I told her it will be the ultimate road trip, and that the only thing I could guarantee her is that it would be a trip she would never ever forget!

Last weekend, we all went to see the African Children's Choir perform, and they were awesome!! We dressed Caleb up in his traditional Ethiopia outfit we bought him during our first trip to Ethiopia, and boy did he look so handsome and sooo Ethiopian. When the children first came out onto the stage, Caleb had a very strange reaction. He almost seemed scared, and he wouldn't look at the children. However, after a few songs, he really started enjoying himself and by the time it was over, he loved it!! He has been playing the cd we bought and singing along with it ever since. It was really a moving experience to see these children, and to also see the church at full capacity! I think God moved in many hearts through these beautiful children.

Then, just yesterday, we took Caleb to the World Chicken Festival, an annual festival held here in London each year. It was his first time ever to ride "kiddie rides" and boy did he like that! He did not, however, like funnel cake. That is probably a good thing! Unfortunately, Zack and I love funnel cake. Oh well. We only eat it like maybe a couple times a year :)

We covet your prayers for a quick resolution to our USCIS issues. We really, really, REALLY want to bring Noah home asap!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In My Own Little World......

What if there's a bigger picture......
What if there's a greater purpose......
Outside my own little world.....
God very often uses music and lyrics to speak to me,
and I hope this song speaks to you as well.....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Welcome Noah....And Microfinance!!!!

This past weekend we were given a shower for Noah at our church by some of my close friends. They did such a great job of making the shower awesome! Great food, great decorations, and great fellowship. Noah is one lucky guy, and is going to have everything he needs thanks to the generosity of our friends and family. Above are just a few pictures (the cake note only tasted great, it was sooo cute- my favorite!)

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!
When we asked if anyone had any questions a young boy, probably about 8 years old raised his hand and asked how someone could donate to an orphanage- what a sweet young man! He talked to us after the service and he is so interested in donating supplies for us to take back to Ethiopia, and in giving a microfinance loan through World Vision's awesome microfinance program. If you haven't checked this out, you really need to. It is an amazing way to give people in other countries the opportunity they need to turn their ideas into tangible ways to sustain themselves and those around them- check out this link for more info!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

We're Bringing Him Home!!!

Today we received word that our embassy appointment had been confirmed- but we also were given two different dates to choose from...hmmm, interesting! The first, which we had been told about in Ethiopia, was for September 20! That would mean we would need to leave a week from today or tomorrow to get to Ethiopia in plenty of time. Wow! The other date we were given as an option was October 6.

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!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Since We Have Been Home...

Since we have been home, so much has been going on! First, we recently bought a home that needed quite a bit of renovation (I mentioned this in a previous post). While we were in Ethiopia, most of the painting was done, the hardwood was installed, the tile was installed, and a few other things were done. Since we have been home, the carpet has been installed, the counter tops have been installed, and we have managed to get into more projects than we anticipated :) Of course, our goal is to obviously have the house ready by the time we bring Noah home, but we also would like to have it ready a little bit earlier so that Caleb can get used to his new home for a few weeks before he also has to get used to having a brother :)

In the midst of all this work, last weekend was my 10 year high school reunion. I helped with a few preparations and also with the decorating and cleanup. It was a busy and fun weekend (the picture is from the reunion).

Also, since we have been home, I had a short stay in the emergency room. My stomach was not feeling right the first week home from Ethiopia- I was having extreme stomach pain and some other issues. I assumed I had picked up something in Ethiopia. At the beginning of our second week home, everything intensified, and Monday night I was laying in bed literally moaning with pain. I had not been sick to my stomach since I was 7 years old, so this was all new to me. Before I knew it, I was in the bathroom vomiting everywhere (sorry, gross, I know). I could not stop, and I quickly asked to be taken to the hospital. Thankfully whatever they gave me stopped the vomiting. Turns out it wasn't anything I caught in Ethiopia, just a bad virus going around. Thankfully by the end of the week I was eating solid foods and beginning to feel human again. I feel great now and I am making up for the days when all I could eat was Jello. That being said, I am praying God will completely restore my health so that when the time comes for us to make our second trip to Ethiopia, I will be ready to go!

Speaking of our second trip to Ethiopia- our embassy date is still tentatively scheduled for September 22, which would have us leaving on the 19th, and hopefully returning on the 25th. We should know in a couple weeks if that date is a go.

Needless to say, we have been thinking a lot about Noah lately. I can not get over the fact that we had to leave him in Ethiopia. We wonder if he thinks of us, or if he has forgotten about us. We wonder if he understands that we are coming back for him, and that when we do, he will be leaving with us to become a part of our family forever. It is hard to know what he is thinking, but one thing is for sure, we can't wait to have him here. We miss him so very much. Caleb often asks us about him, and asks us when he is coming home. He is going to be a great brother to Noah!

One things that has struck me since we have been home is just how blessed we are to have such wonderful family. Thank God for my parents and for Zack's parents. While we were gone, my parents took over managing the projects at the new house (until my dad had to have emergency gallbladder surgery). My mom has been giving all her free time to either watching Caleb while I work part time or to working on the new house. My dad helps out in the evening after work. Zack's parents and sisters took awesome care of Caleb in our absence and also relieved my mom of double care giving duties (for my dad and Caleb). I don't what we would have done without them during that time. We are so blessed and truly thankful!

That leads me to one more quick note- We were given the opportunity to establish a fund with Lifesong for Orphans so that individuals could contribute to our adoption as they felt led. At the end of the deadline for giving, around $4200 had been contributed! Amazing. Really amazing. We are overwhelmed at the generosity we have been show. And definitely a God thing. Why do I say that? Well, we had been praying that God would provide the cost of our travel for our first trip to Ethiopia. The new two trip rule is quite a financial burden for most families, as the cost is doubled for travel. I kid you not, our plane tickets for our first trip were just a few dollars over $4200- Is that not amazing! Almost to the dollar, God provided! How can we do anything but give him glory!