Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Embassy Submission!

We've been submitted to the US Embassy!

We received the email today and we were elated.

The only concern we have, is they misspelled one of our son's names. I've been told this is normal for them to make spelling errors and as long as the documents (birth certificates  passports, court decrees) are correct then there is nothing to be concerned about. I just like to have that clarification so we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of an email that will show the important documents.

Next, the US Embassy will conduct their own investigation of our children's orphan status (completing form I-604). Once the investigation is completed, we will be cleared for travel and able to show up at the embassy for our appointment to gather visas for the boys!

I'm super excited, but also anxiously awaiting communication from the Embassy. The email we received today stated very broad ranges of time so that people don't expect too much as far as a quick time frame. I however, am praying that we are on the very very very short end of the stated time frames.

Would you pray for all of this and for the timing? Also, pray for flights and flight availability  When I looked yesterday, flight prices had more than doubled since a month ago when we travelled.

Thank you so much for praying and for enjoying the progress with our family!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Burdened Heart

I haven't written in a while; so here is my post-court trip post. (Say that three times fast, post-court trip post, post-court trip post, post-court trip post....ha)

Our trip to Ethiopia was amazing in so many ways. The joy and excitement we felt when we first saw our sons, first held them in our arms, first smiled back at their smiles, first looked into their eyes and told them we love them....every first was an emotion filled, overwhelming moment that we will never forget. 

Let me start with my husband. You see, many of you know Brian from a distance or maybe you know him like you've known him your whole life, or maybe your like me, and you think you really KNOW him. But, there are several times in our marriage where I stand in awe of who he is and our trip to Ethiopia was one of those times where I stood corrected, and realized, there is still so much more to know about this man. His heart is pure and his love for our sons was something I could see so clearly and something I expected to see. His love for the 49 other orphans we were surrounded by on a daily basis, was beautiful and an unexpected blessing. He sacrificed himself every minute we were around children. Children that are begging for a family, children wishing they would be looked at, children longing to be held, children wanting badly to have a playmate. Brian was all of these wishes, and hopes and things for the least of these. He played basketball (praising God he never got hurt...again, it is Brian we are talking about, Brian that opens car doors on his face and runs into coffee tables that haven't moved in years), soccer, keep away, football, duck duck goose, checkers...the list goes on. He was drained emotionally and physically at the end of every day because he gave all of himself. I fell in love with him even more and found myself thanking God more often for the amazing gift of marriage to an amazingly, selfless man. I'm thankful that his love and desire to care for the orphaned is what led us to our sons and I'm so honored to walk this road with him. 

Next, let me try to describe our boys to you. 

Eyob is a silent leader. He's the kind of person you want to follow without ever hearing him say anything. He is compassionate to say the least. His heart is for his friends and for those that care for him. He loves the little children, sings songs to them, lifts them up, cares for them and plays with them. He is quick on his feet. Always ready to join when asked. He never wants to be a burden and hides his pain. He is loved by so many and by being adopted, his orphanage is losing something so very special and they all know it. Every nanny that I met, told me how blessed we are to have him and that Eyob is simply amazing. 

Yohannes is for justice. He makes sure everyone lines up to receive their fair share whenever we would give out gifts. He tells it like it is and he is a protector. He is competitive to the core and good at every sport we saw him play because he has a determination like I have never seen before. His smile is breathtaking. His affection for his friends is radiant and he loves deeply. 

I was only able to get to know our boys from a distance for most of our time together because we were at their orphanage with 49 other children that also wanted our attention. But on two of the days that we were there, we were able to have some quality time with just our boys and those moments were precious. We held hands, prayed together, played together, laughed, learned and studied each other. Those moments are forever engraved in my mind and I long to have more of them.

Finally, I'll wrap with what I have taken from our journey in Addis. I thought I was prepared for what we would see when our feet hit the ground. I've seen pictures, I've read books, I've talked to friends. Nothing could have prepared me for what my heart would feel. I've said it before, God has given me a heart for Africa. I don't say that lightly. It happened when I was in grade school, I saw a video and it resonated deep within me, a seed that would continue to grow over my life. I felt my heart break in Addis. Don't get me wrong, there is so much more than heart ache in Ethiopia. The beauty of the people, the love that they share, the lives that they live are beautiful in so many ways and I only hope to learn more about this amazing country as my life continues. But the heart ache came from seeing the countless needs. Needs for the basics. Needs for love. Needs for communication. Needs for organization. Needs for Jesus. The burdens just kept coming and my heart grew heavy. I felt responsible, like I had to do something more. So now, we pray. We are praying daily for God to lead us and to use us where He sees best for His kingdom. We want to BE the church.

Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2

Adoption is beautiful. Orphans have a need. They need love. They need to be told they are worth something, they are wanted. They need Jesus, they need hope. 

Adoption is messy. We live in a fallen world. There is coruption, there is a lack of communication, there is sin.

Adoption needs understanding. There are so many unknowns. So many hurdles and so much confusion here. We have to ask the hard questions. We have to dig for answers. We have to be a part of the solution. There are an estimated 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia. That's the size of their capital, Addis Ababa's population total. We don't have to wait for orphans to be born, we only have to look to the 4.6 million that need a home now. They are waiting, while we are waiting and this is the part that makes no sense to me. Why the waiting lists? Why the long amounts of time to create families? 4.6 million without a home. 4.6 million waiting for a family. The questions are hard. The task seems daunting. The problem is huge. But, God is bigger. He uses His people to fulfill His plan for mercy. Be a part of that plan. Do something. Help someone. Get up, get out, look around.

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.  Isaiah 1:17

So, where do we stand? We are waiting to have our case submitted to the Embassy in Addis for review and eventual "clearance." Once we have cleared Embassy, I will travel with my best friend Mandy, to Addis to pick up our boys.

We would love your prayers for our sons during this time of transition. They have already experienced so much loss in their life and now they are saying goodbye to friends, nannies and teachers they have had for over four years. They are so brave and have so much courage and hope for the future, but I'm asking you to cover their hearts in prayer.

Please pray for our family to be all together in the coming weeks. I am boldly asking God to have our case submitted to the Embassy this Wednesday and to have them cleared by the following Tuesday.

Please pray for safe travels for all of us that will be travelling (Mandy and Jeanne-MIL to Portland, Mandy and Deena to Addis and Boys to USA).

Thank you again, so very much for your support of our family. For your love and for your prayers. We are so blessed to call you friends and family! Thank you for letting me share my heart :)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

God sets the lonely in families....Psalm 68:6

We passed court today!!!

Eyob and Yohannes are orphans no more! We couldn't be more excited. This was much less painful than when we had Kellan, Ella and Elias (physically for Deena), but the elated feelings we had then are the same feelings we have today. We both feel like we are walking on a cloud and we are so so so grateful for God's faithfulness.

Please join us in celebrating today. We are officially a family of 7!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Greetings from Dubai!

Deena and I are at the Dubia Airport, waiting for our flight to Ethiopia. We had a nice layover and feel some what rested for today's flight. We are not sure if we will be able to meet our boys today or not but we are praying that the moment we do meet them arrives very quickly.

Thank you for all the support we have received that has brought us to this point.

More updates to come!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

We Have a Court Date!!!!!!!!!!

Can you tell from all of the !!!!!!!! that we are excited?

We are so stinkin excited to meet our boys! And in 15 days we will be on our way to doing just that!

April 30th is our court date in Addis. We will go before the judge and petition to have our sons join our family forever. Please cover this date and our family in prayer. We would love to pass court and have our boy's cases submitted to Embassy asap so we can bring them home!

Here's what the process looks like now:

4/23-Brian and I fly to Addis
4/25-We arrive in Addis and meet our fabulous sons!!!!!!!! Wooooohoooooo
4/30-We have our court appointment
5/1-We leave Addis :( (happy to go home and see our other kiddos, but super sad to leave kiddos behind)
5/2-We wait to be submitted to Embassy

Our agency will take over at this point. The boys will need physicals, TB tests, passports, and birth certificates before they can be submitted to Embassy for review. Our agency can only submit our case on Wednesday's; so hopefully paperwork and appointments can be put together quickly and we will be submitted a few weeks after our court date.

Once we are submitted to Embassy, we will wait to hear if we have "cleared" Embassy and then we will be given an interview date. This happens fairly quickly (examples are hearing you cleared and flying out within a few days for your appointment). Once we have an appointment, we will be free to fly back to Addis, appear for our appointment and bring our boys home....FOREVER!!!!!

I just get chills every time I say that.

Our sons, will be home, and have a family, FOREVER!!!! I'm over the moon about this. I am just so incredibly thankful that we get to walk this road, that we get to be their parents, that we get to be their family, that God picked us!

Thank you so very much for all of your love, support and prayers. We truly are humbled and forever grateful for all you have done to show our family your support.

I'm going to throw it out there one more time that we will be taking donations with us for Bring Love In as well as the boys' orphanage, so if you have some shopping in you and would like to pick up clothes and shoes for kids ages 4-14, feel free to do so and contact me about getting them to us before we leave. My amazing Mother in Law is flying out here from Colorado, so she could bring stuff out here if you are in Colorado and don't want to pay shipping! (I'm volunteering you Jeanne, pre-discussing this with you, so I hope you're ok with this).

If you have no time to shop and want me to shop for you, you could send $ my way and I'd be happy to buy up the clearance section at Old Navy!

While in Ethiopia, we will send updates via Face Book and hopefully our blog, so stay posted.

Love to you all!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blown Away

Psalm 28:7 

The LORD is my strength and my shield; 
my heart trusts in him, 
and I am helped. 
My heart leaps for joy and 
I will give thanks to him in song.

So, I can't tell you how many times I have sat waiting impatiently for God to move. I am a bad bad bad student when it comes to learning patience and yet my heavenly Father is so patient with me.

I am absolutely blown away by His goodness and faithfulness! Even in the valley (which, not surprisingly at all, Deena means "the valley"), when the sun seems so far away, I can usually stand firm on my faith and eventually, I am rewarded with God's faithfulness, even if the answers are not what I wanted. 

Anyway, that's my prelude to some very good news! An answer we prayed for months and months ago and we have received the answer we were hoping for. After receiving a matching grant from Life Song for Orphans a few weeks ago, we received yet another favorable grant response from another absolutely amazing organization called Show Hope!!!!! Check them out here:

Would you rejoice with us today?! 

We are so so so overjoyed by this news and so humbled by God's love and favor over our adoption. We are floored by His love for our boys and by His promise to sustain us and provide for us when we are obedient. We are helped by Him today and we leap for joy and give thanks to Him in song!

Please remember to keep our process in your prayers! Our MOWCYA court date is 3/29 Good Friday, and we desperately request that you pray for our case to receive a positive letter from the MOWCYA on 3/29 or before and that we would quickly be assigned a court date of our own. Please join us in praying! I'll remind you again as the time gets closer :)

Love love love love you all!!!!!