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!