Thursday, July 10, 2014

Happy Gotcha Day Andrew and Annabelle!

So by now, you know the story...

Two ridiculously eager, totally clueless people got on a plane and flew for two days.  Those two days were filled with excitement, restless sleep and video diary that is equal parts hilarious and horrible.  Picture Bill at 2:00 am sharing his feelings about becoming a dad while eating beef jerky and dried fruit.

We arrived at the orphanage and waited for about 10 minutes.  Possibly the longest 10 minutes of our lives.  We had seen many videos of people meeting their children just like this.  Waiting in a room for a stranger to bring in a baby that was both a stranger and your child all wrapped up in a tiny little blanket.  Watching those nannies walk down the cobblestone sidewalk was the most surreal experience.  Only surpassed by the experience a few seconds later, of having someone hand you a child.  YOUR CHILD! Those faces!  We had been dreaming of those faces for years.
Andrew's referral pic.  We should have know he was going to be a busy guy!  Two months old and can't stay still!!

Annabelle's referral pic.  Everyone comments on how beautiful her lips are.  Even I knew she would be a sassy pants!

We could never have imagined how we would feel in those moments left alone in the "Family Room" with our children.  We immediately unwrapped them and counted fingers and toes.  If you remember the story, Andrew's hand was blurry in the picture so Bill was sure he only had his left one.
We prayed and marveled in the wonder of these sweet babies and then immediately panicked when we realized we were in Ethiopia.  With our babies.  On our own.  To figure it out.

Napping after her first bath in a sink

Trying to figure our the "pookie" principle.

God is so Good!  He took us to Ethiopia and gave us the gift of these two adorable little faces.  We couldn't believe how blessed we were at that moment, to be the parents of two perfect little people.  Still now we marvel at the blessing it is to parent them each day.

Happy Gotcha Day Yechy and Hamme!

Monday, June 30, 2014

"I still care about her"

My Sweet Boy!

I was putting Andrew to bed and as I snuggled down with him he said something that stopped my heart.  He said, "Mom- I miss my birth mom.  No one saw her face except me.  I wish she could know I still care about her."

And exhale...

I hugged him and told him I think she knows just how much he loves her.  I also told him that his birth mom loves him more than he will ever know.  I told him she must think about him all the time.  He said, "Mom, my birth mom is probably dead right?  I mean most people in Ethiopia don't have any food or clean water." 

And exhale...

I explained that we pray for his birth mom every night and reminded him we pray for safety and for a peace.  We pray that she would somehow know that she made the best choice for Andrew by taking him to the ally where someone would find him and take him to the orphanage.  She could never imagine that Andrew would be living with a family who loves him and takes care of him.  I told him that Ethiopians do have a hard time finding enough food and clean water, so there is a possibility that his birth mom is no longer living on this earth.  I also told Andrew that no matter where she is right now, he will see her in heaven.

And exhale...

Then came the hard part.  I told him that no matter how he feels about being adopted, it's okay.  Sometimes, he will like being adopted, sometimes he won't.  Sometimes, like tonight, he will feel sad.  Sometimes he will be mad or frustrated or feel like no one understands.  All of that is okay.  That part wasn't so hard.  The hard part was taking in the fact that no matter how much I love Andrew, no matter how much I nurture and work to be sure he has what he needs and is well adjusted, it might not be enough.  He will always have this little part of him that will long for something cannot give him and I cannot understand.  All I can do is pray that he understands the choices his birth mom made to give him life and the choices we made to bring him home.

Sometimes adoption is so fun.  We get to see God create families in ways we could never imagine.  Sometimes adoption is hard.  When you get smacked in the face with the reality that there are just somethings you will never be able to give your child.  Regardless of how it feels, adoption is always a miracle!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Where You Go I'll Go

When we were still in Phoenix, Benjamin was learning how to go to bed in a toddler bed instead of his crib.  One of the things that soothed him was listening to music while I rocked him.  He's the baby.  Of course I did it!  We listened to "Praise Baby" worship songs every night.  One of the songs on that CD was a song with lyrics that say, "Where you go I'll go, where you stay, I'll stay, when you move, I'll move, I will follow you".  Every time I heard that song, I cried.  A lot of times it was the ugly kind of cry.  It was the thought of moving so far away.  It was Bill being so far away from us for so long.  It was holding what could be our last baby.  It was the thought of all 3 of our babies not growing up within 30 minutes from so many people who loved them (seriously, it's like more than 30 people).  If I am really honest, it was letting go of what I had envisioned of my life and surrendering that to God.  Isn't His plan better anyway?  Of course it is, but not always easy.
Today at MOPS, we talked about loss and it really hit a chord with me for a lot of reasons.  I couldn't even talk about the loss of my dad because it was too hard with so many people who don't know me.  People who don't know my heart.  That loss was too heavy to talk openly about today. On the way home I cried as I thought of the loss of what we had in Arizona.  Perceived security, family surrounding us at all times, friendships so treasured, sweet neighbors who knew our story.  The loss seemed too much.  Most of the day I oscillated between tears and just plain sadness.
Then at bedtime, I heard the song.  "Where you go, I'll go..."
This time, it was not me singing, but Benjamin, Andrew and Annabelle singing from their beds.  Singing God's truth about following His plan, not ours.  I cannot explain the peace that washed over me as I heard those sweet voices singing about God's truth.
All of the loss, imagined or real is totally worth it if we can trust Him more.  If we can teach our children to trust Him more.  We are not great at the obedience with grace by any means, but we are trying.  As a family we are singing, "Where you go, We'll go..."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Happy Gotcha Day!

Okay same title from 6 months ago...  EMBARRASSING!!!  Same title, same celebration, different kids!
Seven years ago today, we met Andrew and Annabelle for the first time (Yecheneku and Hamelmal respectively).  We had waited for so long to welcome children into our hearts and home.  We prayed and waited and prayed and waited.  Those around us prayed and waited.  When we got our referral (May 27), we saw their pictures and fell in love with children we had never met.  Those of you who know us joined in praying them home with faces attached to those prayers for the first time.  On June 14th they went to court in Ethiopia with our lawyer and became Sanborn's in the eyes of Ethiopia.  We felt a sense of relief for about 10 seconds and then the panic set in... 

What were we thinking??!!  Two babies?!  IN ETHIOPIA?!!  But as first time parents we convinced ourselves we could do it.  We had no idea!

Neither one of us slept the night before.  We were up and ready by 6:30am when our appointment at the orphanage wasn't until 9:30.  When we finally pulled up to the facility I felt these crazy waves of emotion.  Some of it was relief, some pure nerves and I now know part of it was fierce protection of these sweet babies we had yet to meet. 

Then it happened.  In slow motion.  The nannies handed Andrew to me and Annabelle to Bill.  I burst into tears, and Bill got a little misty as well. 

We were holding our babies.  The little ones God had intended for us from the creation of the world.  A.MA.ZING.  And now, God (and the country of Ethiopia) was entrusting them to us.  More panic!  Then we sat down in the "Family Room" at the orphanage and took it all in.  Both of those sweet babies locked eyes with us and we were ruined.  Every tear, every sleepless night, every struggle, every bit of heartache, every penny, every piece of paper was totally worth it in that split second when our eyes met theirs.

Thank you Lord for the privilege of raising these sweet children.  We will never take for granted the miracle you have been working for the past seven years. Andrew Jess Yecheneku and Annabelle Cate Hamelmal, we love you more than words can express! 

Happy Gotcha Day!
Not so sure he likes this "meeting the parents" business

Why is no one holding me?!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Happy Gotcha Day Benjamin!

Yea!!!  I still cannot believe we have another Gotcha Day to celebrate in our house!  Two years ago today Benjamin became ours, on paper anyway.  We were up just staring at Benjamin most of the night.  Well I was anyway.  Bill got a few winks, as the hospital gave us our own room.  I remember watching him sleep thinking, "Is this really happening?".  I also remember praying, "Lord, we do not know if this will be our son.  There is so much that needs to happen so that we can fully celebrate.  Guard my heart Lord."

I think God may have audibly laughed.

 It was too late, a 5 pound 11 oz bundle was part of our family even if just until the morning if and when birth mom decided to parent.  I wish I could explain this more beautifully, but we made a decision.  I made the decision every adoptive Momma makes, I decided to love.  Hold and cry and snuggle and cry and feed and cry my way through the waiting period.  God would not want us to with hold what Benjamin needed for our own protection.

Where Benjamin was born, we only waited 24 hours, so we had it easy.  At about 12:30 (papers were being signed at 2), birth mom wanted to spend some time with Benjamin so Bill and I left the hospital for a while.  THE LONGEST 2 HOURS OF MY LIFE.  I strolled around Old Navy and made what seemed like lengthy phone calls.  I called everyone who would answer their phones just to "chat" while we waited.  I am sure I seemed soooo calm, cool and collected!  We went back to the hospital at 2:15 (I couldn't wait any longer).  Our social worker called at 2:30 and said birth mom had signed and they were on their way over to get us to sign.  At about 4:30 all of the paperwork was done, we had met with birth mom and her 5 children and were were in our room again alone with Benjamin.  He was only about 26 hours old and so much had happened in his little life.

 Today, our hearts are just as full as they were that day.  We love you Benjamin and are so blessed to be your parents.  Happy Gotcha Day Sweet Pea!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy Adoption Day!

I Am Thankful For Adoption #10: I am thankful that one year ago today, the court recognized what God set apart from the beginning of time.  Benjamin is our son!

When we started the journey to adopt another baby, our world looked quite different.  Andrew and Annabelle were 2, I was still teaching.  My dad was still here.  We wanted our kids to be really close in age and we were grappling with how the wait of an Ethiopian adoption would effect that.  We started praying.  A few months later, my dad died.  Our whole world as we knew it came crashing down.  Andrew stopped talking, Annabelle started worrying about everything.  And that is just the kids...  We could not fathom how another adoption would work without our Pappy.  God had other plans.

So we continued to pray.  We prayed for more than 2 more years before God gave us a peace to start our process over again.

We prepared our dossier and as we did, God was changing our hearts.  We had always envisioned 5 Ethiopian babies in our family.  God stopped us in our tracks and reminded us we could trust him.  He had always been faithful before, we just needed to trust him.  So we did.  We let go of the dream of 5 Ethiopian babies and took hold of a dream that seemed much scarier.  Domestic adoption had so many risks.  What is the birth mom changed her mind?  What if, after all of this, we were left with empty arms?

So we kept praying.

As we proceeded, we had the most amazing peace.  As we had a need, God provided.  As we had doubts, God filled the worrisome place.  Four months after our first home study visit, we were meeting Benjamin.  He was just a few hours old and he grabbed our hearts so completely.  His birth mom was and is a treasure.  She made the greatest sacrifice in love so that God could have his way in all of our lives.

Nine months later, one year ago today, Benjamin became a Sanborn.  With our older kids, court was just a formality.   They were already ours in the eyes of Ethiopia, so we couldn't give them back:)  Benjamin's court hearing was different.  He was still Baby Boy P******.  After nine months of loving and bonding and caring for him, he was still not technically part of out family.

Of course I cried.  Our poor Lawyer didn't know what hit her!  I was hysterical, so was my mom.  Thank goodness Aunt Brenda was there to take pictures or we would have literally NO record of that amazing day!  Thank you to Aunt Shari, Gigi, Grandpa and Miss Erin for joining us on that special occasion!  Thank you Lord for the heap of blessing that is our son!  Your plan is always best, and for that, we are so thankful!
This is the judge with our family:)

This is our court appointed lawyer...  No, I have no idea what Annabelle is doing...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thankful for adoption #7

 I am so blessed to call so many amazing women my  friends.  I treasure so many of the women (some mommas and some not) in my life, as women can be hard to befriend. Not my girls!  They are awesome and funny and strong, and not at all competitive about kids talents or "stuff".   They love their kids and their husbands beyond words!  They aren't afraid to ask for help or to give a hand.   One friend I call and text often as she is going through a rough patch in her life right now and we live very far apart. I love her and wish I was closer to get my arms around her neck each day.  Some friends I share a neighborhood with and will watch my kids at a moments notice.  One such friend drove us to the airport when Benjamin's birth mom was in labor.   Then there are the moms adoption has brought into my life:)  Some I was friends with long before we became adoptive moms.  So we had a basis of friendship before the joys and challenges of being adoptive moms came into our lives.  Some I met through the process and will always treasure the friendship and encouragement I have benefited from.  Some have been brought to adoption by God's miracle of adoption in my family, and are now taking the leap too!  However these precious friendships came to be, I cannot express the gratitude I have for their loyalty and presence in my life.  They have talked me off the ledge about adoption issues, momma issues, husband issues...  They have prayed for each one of my children as if they were their own.  They have stood in the gap and helped when I was overwhelmed.  Most people are lucky if they have one friend like this.  I have many.  God has been so good to me, and knows my heart better than anyone could.  So he made these friendships possible.  He knew I would need other moms here and now to hold my hand.  Three of these super women I speak with almost everyday.  Does this give you a little hint about how exhausting it is to be my friend?!  Christy, Erin and Alyson I love you and your families like crazy!  Your children are precious gifts to me, the adopted ones and the bio ones:)   I am beyond blessed to be able to walk this journey with you!