Tuesday, February 28, 2012

{Hope for the Home} Guest Post #2

I was the guest blogger on Worthy of the Prize's

series yesterday

I posted about our Morning Blessing.
Check it out if you'd like! :)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Truth Pandemic

I don't really know where to begin this story because I feel like I always knew it, even though it has not even fully played out yet.  It is like trying to remember before your children were born....you feel like they have always been there.  Or, if you don't have children, trying to remember life before you meet your best friend – it is dull.  I don't want to get into many details about how we got into our adoption journey but I will tell you we have always known it would happen, my husband and I just didn't know when.  I also want to tell you that we have two young biological children that are both toddlers. 

We want to remain anonymous – but yet praise the Lord with the beautiful babe He has generously blessed us with.  I want to share how we - a normal, average couple, chose the route we did.  Because it was not us, it was all the Lord.  It is sorta strange writing our story without telling you who we are but I know it is for the best, right now.  And I hope you understand. 

The simple story of God bringing us to our son is that God opened our eyes and hearts. 

The detailed story is that it took time and prayer.

We started our adoption journey fully expecting that we would bring home a baby in 2-3 years after starting.  We started when “things” started to slow down in Ethiopia – last spring.  We knew that the slow down would affect us and we felt confident that this was the right time to start because of them.  Our family and friends thought we were a little crazy, at least most did, since our youngest was still a baby.  However, we were fully at peace about the decision to start thinking the process would take a lot of time.

Around the time we started our process, we had good friends close to the end of their adoption journey.  One day our friend mentioned how the Lord was laying things on her heart that were heavy.  I asked what they were so I could pray for her.  She said a number of things in that conversation but one thing stuck out.  She felt a huge burden for HIV orphans and felt like the Lord might lead them to adopt a child with the chronic disease one day.  As a good friend I said I would pray for her, and I did.  I also started looking up what adopting a child with HIV would mean so that in the future I could help her out and understand her world better. 

I read a book called There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene and was heartbroken for the orphans devastated by the terrible disease.  I learned that there are over 25 million HIV/AIDS orphans in the world 1 million live in Ethiopia.  This started to hurt my heart like it did my friend and through it my husband and I felt like the Lord was preparing us to go that route in the future – FAR future.  Not THIS adoption future. 

Each day at nap time I make a habit of checking our agencies waiting list.  I like praying for the children on there.  I like praying for their families, wherever they are.  I have done this since the beginning of our adoption and will most likely continue past our finalization.  One day early summer I saw a new face that was in our age range.  This little one was on the older end of what we thought we would “accept”.  If we brought him into our home we would be bringing in our oldest.....and he had three little letters attached to his name....H....I....V. 

I prayed for this little boy daily.  After 3 weeks of prayer by myself, I rallied my husband in and we started to pray for this little one to find a home.  We prayed for his family to open their hearts.  The other little guys on the list I prayed for, but not like him - he was special.  At week 4 I started praying for him by name.  Around week 5, I prayed for him one day, while staring at his picture, when I was done I stood up and said, “I am coming for you”.  At that point I realized the Lord had opened my heart for this little one and I asked God what he was doing to me...... and our family. 

I knew the Lord had convinced me, but I was not so sure about my husband.  I prayed for another week, which seemed like eternity, for my husbands heart to change and be open to this little guy.  I asked my husband to consider the little one and after a couple days of repeating, “just because we look at his information doesn't mean we have to be open to him.”  He said sure ask to see more information. 

The next few days are a bit of a blur.  We asked our agency for more information on him.  We spent a weekend in prayer.  We talked about issues we never thought we would have to talk about.  We did a lot of research on HIV and HIV adoptions, Adopting older children, and Adopting the oldest.  Ultimately our prayers changed from, “can we do this, Lord?”  to “Lord, if this is not what you want....slam the door.” 

When we first started praying for the Lord to open the hearts of this boy’s family we never-ever thought we were praying for Him to open ours.

We rejoiced when we received the call we had hoped for and were told that this little boy was our son.  In my heart I knew he was special right away, but it took weeks of prayer to let God slowly work His way in.  There are no words to explain how grateful I am that God choose us for this. 

At the start of this year, not even a full year after starting our adoption, we traveled to meet our son for the first time.  We are amazed that the Lord has matched him with our family and know that he will fit right in.  We can't wait for him to come home and meet his siblings!

To think that we could have missed out on this little blessing....it brings me to tears.  I want others to see that HIV is not scary.  NOT AT ALL.  Our son will have to take medicine his whole life, but other than his pills he can live a normal healthy life.  HIV is not a death sentence; it is also not easily transmitted.

Some days I am overwhelmed by the fact that I am his mother.  I get overwhelmed by the lies I have been told my whole life about HIV and how scary it is.  I get overwhelmed that I have the job of raising a boy into a man with the disease and all that THAT entails.  I get overwhelmed by the fact that I will have three toddlers (that is really scary)!!!

That is when I look at our son’s sweet little face and I praise the Lord.  Those are the moments when God transforms my overwhelming fears into overwhelming love.  I know the love I have for this little one is the same love that comes from above onto me, even in my brokenness that is altogether scary.  Those are the times I stop and thank God of the life I have been given and am completely blessed to live.

I am writing from an anonymous position because we are not fully open about our son’s status yet.  We want to be, but are questioning how to do this.  The friends we have told have been wonderful and supportive.  We continue to seek guidance and go to prayer about how to handle the social aspect of this disease as that harder to live with then the disease itself.  If you could pray for us, even though we are anonymous, it is appreciated. 

If you want to learn more about adopting a child with HIV, please check out Project Hopeful, who answered more questions than I can count for us when we started down this path. 

Truth Pandemic

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Driggers

I don’t know if it was our ages (35) or the number of children we had (4), or even, perhaps, the age of my youngest (4), but I was constantly fielding the age old question, “Are you done?”

And though I could answer any of a number of ways, “I don’t know,” “Nothing permanent has been done,” “Some days I feel over-done,” or, if I was feeling particularly feisty, “Well, last time I checked we weren’t celibate,” I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that we were missing someone.

Actually, “missing someone” is an understatement. Some days I would have said it felt like I was dying a thousand slow deaths. I had a child, I knew not where, and I didn’t know how to find her or how to proceed when I did. Which seemed crazy considering many people already thought I had a “lot” of children and “had enough to do.”
I had been stalking online photolistings for many years, sometimes intently and sometimes casually, watching for that child that would grab my heart and my husband’s, as well as our kids’. Though their daddy and I would have happily brought a wide range of new siblings into our home, our clan definitely had their opinions. Our domestically adopted African American son really wanted someone brown, our daughter wanted a sister, and we had a four year gap that left our youngest feeling left without a buddy. It was a tall order. We felt that if we could accomplish all three in a single child, it would be the green light we were awaiting.

I don’t know what possessed me to get on precious.org that day. We were feeling pretty content at the time. Therefore, I can only attribute God for the random urge that took me online in June. When our little girl popped up, I literally gasped out loud, unplugged my laptop and SPRINTED to my husband who, rather than instantly responding “no” as was his custom, cocked his head to the side, blinked, and requested more information.

She was just…..ours. We knew it.

Granted, it took us three weeks to think and pray about it. Three weeks of obsessing. Three weeks of tears. Three weeks of feeling like a failure as a parent (I’ve since found out that this is a very normal experience while trying to make an unalterable decision about waiting children. If your children suddenly don’t obey, question you on every. single. thing, seem to hit adolescence early, or any of a number of bad behaviors while you are deciding on a waiting child, take heart that they will soon return to their normal selves once you’ve resolved that there is no going back). Three weeks of checking and rechecking the photolisting to see if she was still on there. And in those three weeks, another family stepped forward, so by the time we were ready to commit ourselves to another child she was “on hold.” Oh, my grief and fury at myself for questioning, for even a second, that she should be with us. I took heart that she would have a home, but, we KNEW she was ours. And four days later, apparently so did they. We committed to her fully on June 24.

Adopting in Ethiopia during these uncertain times has been a trial by fire. Since we were miles away from feeling like we would adopt on June 1, we had to work backwards, and fast. We had a full dossier to assemble. We had to rush a homestudy. Rush documents. Rush money. (What money?) And yet it all came together and our dossier landed in Ethiopian hands on….get this…the first day of rainy season. So we waited. And waited. And waited for the courts to re-open. And then we waited. And waited. And waited to be submitted to court. And then we waited. And waited. And waited to get a court date. And then it all sped up.

The day after Christmas, my husband and I jumped on a plane and flew to Ethiopia to meet our daughter. Everyone who met her before us described her as sweet, but sweet doesn’t encapsulate her by half. That little girl is a firecracker. She is fiery and independent and determined and she knows what she wants. It will serve her well as a middle child in a family of seven. She wasn’t about to trust us in our two short weeks with her, and that is to be expected after the experiences of her last three years, but she is resilient and strong. And with the Lord’s help we will take those hesitantly offered hugs and her internal spark and teach her about the love of a family.

Jaime Driggers

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Seven {an update}

I hope you're enjoying our Adopting a Waiting Child series!  I've had so much fun "meeting" all the families who guest posted for this...it's been so inspirational! 

We still have two stories for you in the next two days {come back and read them...you will NOT be disappointed!}.  But, I wanted to pause and give you an update on the Kologeks {the family that we featured here who is in the process of adopting 7-year-old Rediate}.

So, last Thursday, February 16th, the Kologek family had $4,000 dollars left to raise before they were fully funded.  Today, they have $2,000 left!  God is doing amazing things through all of you!! 

My hope is that we can help them scrounge up the remaining
by the end of the month.  Their case is moving abnormally quickly and they are well on their way to being able to go back to get their sweet girl and bring her into her forever family! 

Would you consider giving?  All you have to do is click here and read the instructions under "THE CHALLENGE".  We have FOUR MORE DAYS left in February.  I am praying fervently that we can see this family through to being fully funded!! :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Donaldsons-One Year Later

One year later
A year of firsts for our older adopted children
*We first heard the Donaldson's story here last year. :)

At this exact time last year we had made our first trip to Ethiopia to meet our children, Faith and Abey, and were excitedly waiting for clearance to travel back. As it went, we had to wait the longest out of our group and didn't travel until May for our second trip. BUT, they walked into our home for the first time on Mother's Day last year and that was a great gift!!!

This first year has been one of joy, adjustment, trial and triumph. Adopting the older child provides circumstances that adopting a baby does not. These circumstances add richness and great blessing, but they're not always easy. We have been given a chance to really walk through restoration, redemption and healing with our kids. At times it has been taxing, stretching and heart breaking, but it has also been rewarding, renewing and a great privilege!

Language was hardly an issue at all! They picked up English so quickly and although I know there were a few times where we weren't able to completely communicate, I don't remember it being major. They are both reading now.

Home Schooling has provided a great time to just be able to be with them and bond. We have had many conversations that are part of the healing process that probably wouldn't have happened without that time (We have 3 older, busy kids who are in school).

So, almost a year later, these precious children of God, have shown us so much, made us laugh, stretched us, melted our hearts and blended in so well. Our lives are definitely richer because of them. Ado

These pictures show some of their "Firsts":

Thanks for this opportunity to share a follow-up. We love our Faith and Abey!!

~The Donaldsons

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The McQuilkins-One Year Later

Our sweet baby girl that we brought home from Ethiopia in September of 2010, has turned into a full blown toddler with a horrible case of the terrible twos!!!

I say that proudly, because when we first learned of her and met her, I wasn't sure what God had in store for our sweet daughter. When we brought her home, we were told that she may have suffered a severe brain injury during childbirth by one of our doctors. It was that bad. God heard our cries to restore her health and to show us what he wanted for this sweet daughter of not only ours, but most importantly His!! The first few months were slow going, but as we patiently waited and worried about her future, we began to see her sweet, and stubborn personality emerge. At the end of our last update, we were celebrating her one year birthday. After February of 2011, things seemed to me to be very slow going. She was continuing in physical and occupational therapy and we were really looking forward to watching her pull up and cruise and seem interested in taking those few first wobbly steps. Looking back now, I understand that not only did we have to wait because she was behind, but also because of her very strong willed personality. Why was I surprised by this?? We are talking about a baby born in a third world country, while her mother was dying, who was welcomed into this world in a very sad and traumatic way, without the resources to sustain her life. Against all odds, she survived. I knew it was because God had a plan for her, as he does you and I as well. But, I was not expecting that God got her through this by being stubborn, strong willed, unrelenting and amazingly smart. She is one tough cookie!! It took a while to convince her that it was safe to pull up to a table, after that we had to convince her that cruising was safe as well. Once she mastered these skills which most 9-10 month olds mastered, we had to also let her know that getting down from standing was not to bad either. Things have definitely been different with Khari. She is very cautious and has to really be convinced that she should trust you. Eventually she came around and realized that being on two legs was more beneficial to her. So after 17 months of slow going she decided to take a few steps! We had to force her! She had no interest. But after about one month of "stepping" she decided that it was better to walk. I would say she became a decent walker around 18 months.

So around 18 months old Khari graduated from physical therapy and what a bittersweet picture it was to see that little pitiful muscle free child that we brought home from Ethiopia almost one year later walking herself right out of a rehabilitation center. She was amazing. Not long after that her occupational therapist said she was testing ahead of her age level and she was finished with that as well. It was such hard work watching her try to perfect using her pincher grip to do things as simple as pick up a cheerio, and learning to use her hands for shape sorting and puzzle piece placing. These were all things that I had taken for granted with my other children. Things that I just thought happened naturally. All of the kids in our family learn from each other everyday. Whether it be good or bad, it's true. I think the older children have learned more from Khari this past year than they have from her (although it is close!) They have learned that things don't always come easy, and to keep trying. Although at times she has gotten very frustrated, she never stops trying.

When all of the therapies were finished, and they told me she was doing amazing, I had to catch my breath. She is. She really is.

Now Khari stays busy with her time by trying to put herself in the middle of every activity. She wants to be part of her big sister's sleep overs, play puzzles with her brother and be the center of attention at all school functions, just like all of the other kids. We recently went back to get a reevaluation for therapy services and they said she is doing great in physical and occupational areas. At her two year check-up her not so overwhelmingly emotional pediatrician said that he was blown away by her progress this past year. We are trying to get her to talk and have begun speech therapy. She has around 50 words, but would rather you do what she wants you to do without talking!

Adopting a waiting child is never the easiest path. Lets face it, there is nothing easy about childrearing, and especially not adopting at all. We have been so blessed to be Khari's family. She reminds us all to count everyday as a blessing and to never take anything for granted. She reminds me to slow down, read books, play outside and smile. I cannot imagine our family without her. She may be the youngest of our family, but she is for sure the boss of the other kids, and they wouldn't have it any other way. I am amazed as I look back over this past year. I cannot wait to see what we have in store for this next year!

If you have ever considered adopting a waiting child, think and pray about it. It has been one of the most amazing decisions we have made in our lives.

We are truly blessed!

Much Love,

The McQuilkin family

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The McBrides-One Year Later

Last year we met the McBride family.  They agreed to update on how their year has been with their sweet girl:

What a year it's been! In September, we celebrated a year of having Zinashi in our lives, and now we're nearly at a year and a half. It feels like it's gone so fast, but at the same time it feels like Zinashi has been with us forever. One huge difference is that Zinashi can now speak English fluently. The little girl who was silent at the transition home now talks my ear off for hours at a time, telling intricate stories and asking more questions than any kid I've ever met. She wants to know everything, as soon as possible. She has gone from being our baby to being a kid, able to do things like pour her own milk and scan my card for me on public transit.

My favorite part about Zinashi getting older and being able to communicate better is that she is able to share so much more about what she thinks and feels. She remembers her life in Ethiopia and what happened that brought her to us, and we talk a lot about it. This is such an amazing gift; we are able to talk through things that she has questions about and be sensitive to things we know will make her feel afraid or alone. Her understanding and acceptance of what happened is remarkable. There is such grace to her story, and we feel so blessed and lucky that this is so. We have plans to visit her family in Ethiopia in the fall, and we are so excited to see the people that she talks about and to get to know the region where she spent her first three years of life. I can't wait to hug the necks of the people who made her who she is.

As much as we have always felt a firm connection to Zinashi, we have also worked hard this year and a half in order to deepen that connection and help Zinashi work through her grief. When I look back on our first months with her, I understand how intense it was for all of us. It feels so good to know that the hard work we did has paid off. In fact, we are so confident of our abilities to wade through those hard times again that we are beginning the paper chase for our second adoption. Zinashi is thrilled with the idea of a little sister, and so are we. We can't wait to do the hard work to reap the joy of family again. It is so worth it.

Mary McBride

Interested in helping Zinashi become a big sister?!  Find out how you can help here: http://www.findingmagnolia.com/p/give-it-forward.html

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Witts

In the Beginning:

Nothing about my life with Chris has been conventional. We met at concert in Kansas City in 2002, and despite the advice of nearly everyone we knew, we dated long distance for several months. I was in Iowa; Chris was in Missouri. Across many miles, however, our love grew, and we were soon engaged. After being married for more than four years, we decided it was time to start a family. We tried the conventional route for awhile, but then we decided that pursuing any kind of infertility treatment would be just too predictable. We wanted something more.

When the earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, we knew that we were being called to action through international adoption. We listened to story after story of young children without homes to shelter them and families to love them, and we wanted to get involved. After researching various international programs, we decided on Ethiopia.

We completed our home study and dossier in May 2011. Our paperwork said siblings ages 0-7, preferably boys. At that time we were told that our wait for a referral would be 10-12 months. We settled in. Then in October 2011 we received an email from our agency stating that the wait time for siblings was increasing to 18-24 months. Ugh. Our social worker told us that we could either continue the long wait or decide to change our paperwork to indicate that we would accept a placement of ONE child. It was decision time.

After a good cry (which started in front of my high school youth group girls during prayer requests. Just keepin' it real, girls....) and lots of praying and discussing, we decided to stick with our original decision. I kept coming back to the story of Abraham and Sarah. God made them a promise that they would have a child. It just took a little longer than they anticipated. His timing was perfect. The Bible is full of stories where God keeps His promises, and we trusted that He would walk through this process with us.

This decision to continue the wait was made on a Sunday.

And Then:

The very next Monday morning on a crazy whim I decided to get on our agency's list of waiting children. I have done this approximately never. Really, I'm not making this up. I clicked "siblings" and "Africa" and saw two sets of brothers. G and E's faces were staring at me, and I said, "Chris! I found our future children!"

We saw several other beautiful faces that day, listed as “waiting” because of their age or health complications. It broke our heart to see so many children without families, many who had been on the website for months. This experience gave the world orphan crisis a face for us.

The Next Week:

Was a flurry of phone calls, emails, prayers, and random freaking out. (Could we parent older children? What if I couldn't watch "Castle" every week at 9 on Mondays? I sometimes swear in my classroom. I'm unfit for parenting.) I know that God doesn't really use stone tablets anymore, so I was praying that the Holy Spirit would give us wisdom.

But on that Saturday:

My extended family was together for my niece's 7th birthday party. Our nieces and nephews (ages 10, 9, 7, 7, and almost 6) were laughing and playing and loving time with cousins, and I found myself thinking, "I wish OUR boys were here with them." And then we knew. It wasn't a booming voice, but we didn’t need one.

And Now:

We’ve been to court and met our sons. They are beautiful and energetic, and their smiles melt your heart. We are in the last stage of waiting, and hopefully in the next few weeks, we’ll receive notification that we’ve cleared embassy so that we can return to Ethiopia and bring our boys home.

So our unconventional beginning has become even more unconventional. We will be first-time parents to two boys ages 7 and 8. We know this journey is just beginning. Adopting waiting children means bringing children into your home from brokenness and loss. Children who have lived years in another culture, eating different foods, smelling different smells.

It’s a risk and a challenge, but I think most good things in life are risky and challenging.

If you agree, perhaps you’ll prayerfully consider the adventure of adopting waiting children.

Chris and Kim Witt

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Rogers

Written in March of 2006

I have a weird thing about Sophia and other toddler adoptions...I love the mark when they are finally HOME as long as they weren't home. For us, it was yesterday. We celebrated our 2nd anniversary of bringing Sophia home. She was, of course, just right at 2 years old when we brought her home, and we celebrated her birthday that day with such joy.

Today I’m feeling warm and happy about the toddler adoption experience, but I admit to being a bit afraid of it initially. I was one of those who said "as young as possible" for my first and second adoptions, but I eventually ventured way out of the comfort zone and allowed myself to actually WANT a toddler. I knew it would be a different experience...and it WAS. IT wasn’t harder or worse but rather full of such incredible nuances and unique joys that you can have in no other way but on this particular journey.

It was all muddled up by Haiti's insane blow up (there was a coup d’etat in 2004 just as we were finalizing her adoption), and we couldn't spend the time in country winning her over slowly and visiting her birthmom.

It was muddled up by my sickness, and I couldn't figure out what part of the stress was illness and what was the transition process.

It was muddled up by the arrival of a NEWBORN all of a sudden, and mommy had to be gone without prepping her new toddler in all the ways I normally would have.

It was muddled up by a year of survival, and parents who were in shock and honestly just putting one foot in front of the other most days trying to get along with humor and love the best we knew how.

I can hardly believe she survived my lack of ability to control the details of her first year home. *grin* Indeed, this strong little woman survived being orphaned in a fourth world country, so why did I doubt her abilities and our great God?

I have learned more from her than she'll ever learn from me. The journey to bonding was beautiful and hard and personal and intense and fun. When she first arrived, I consistently felt she would have been happy to go home with the strangers in Target. I knew she was waiting to see if this was forever. She needed time...and so did I.

This last week she and I were sitting in church (I always take her into the music part by herself because we bond through music big time), and a lady I know walked up and teased "Hey little girl, you are so cute...why don't you sit with ME today?" and she leaned into me and grinned "Oh no, this is my momma. I'm staying here." I teared up-I still do when I type it. She is right. We lean in to each other and make it through. She is mine, and finally I am hers.

In the first weeks home it was spring in Missouri, and we had storms as we always do. I listened intently that night to see if she would wake up and need me. She did wake up, but as I approached the door to her bedroom, the sounds I heard were not crying-she was singing. She sang her way through that entire storm while I sat outside her door and quietly sobbed. What resilience. She was fresh in a country she did not know, hearing language she did not know, with a White mom she did not know, in a room she did not know, and somehow her spirit sang. I can only hope for so much in my own life. She inspires me.

So today I celebrate the daughter I've been allowed to have as my own. She is here as long as she wasn't, and we both are entirely different people now than we were then.

{The Rogers kids 2005}


{The Rogers Tribe}


Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Nichols {Part 2}

Update: You have given $500 towards bringing Rediate Zahara home!!  Things are moving QUICKLY with this family...wouldn't it be amazing if they were fully funded by the end of this month?!  They have $3,500 left to go...please give from your heart; let's get.her.home!

James 1:27 (CEV)
27Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil.

Most Christians who have adopted children are familiar with the passage in James shown above. For our family, it has helped us see our calling in this world.

Prior to April 2010, we were a family of 4 children, Haley (18), Lydia (16), Zachary (7), and Ethan (7). Lydia, Zachary, and Ethan were all adopted. During the Fall of 2009, we were given an opportunity to give a home to two boys from Ethiopia whose parents had passed away. They were from an area of Ethiopia that spoke a language called Tigrinya, and they lived in an orphanage run by an adoption agency. After praying about it, we decided to give it a shot. Near the end of April 2010, we were able to bring Rewina (age 8) and Mulat (age 6) home to America to be part of our forever family. For those that have never adopted older children, it is filled with many surprises, and being able to go with the flow of these surprises has been part of our process of successfully blending our new children into our family.

One of the surprises we learned about from Rewina (now named Levi) and Mulat (now named Isaac) was an older sister, Letemeskel. They would tell us that Letemeskel would cook and clean for them. They also told us some sad stories, but it was clear that Letemeskel meant a great deal to them. They also told us that they were placed in an orphanage so “Letemeskel could eat.” After a lot of prayer and consideration, we came to the realization that by adopting Levi and Isaac, our family was now connected to their birth family. With this understanding, we asked ourselves: If any member of our family needed a place to live, wouldn't we open our home to them? Obviously, our answer to that question was yes, we would, and once we came to that answer and knowing that we are all part of God's family, we decided to try to give Letemeskel a home in America. At this point, we contacted our adoption agency and they were able to find her and let us know that we could adopt her. We knew financially it would be stretching things, but we knew if it was meant to be, God would provide a way for us.

In January of 2011, Susan made a trip to Ethiopia and met Letemeskel for the first time. When she was with her, she didn't leave her side for 2 days and slept right next to her that night in the guest house. During the time together Susan was able to see that she was going to be a tremendous gift to our family.

In April of 2011, Scott made the final trip to Ethiopia to complete the adoption of Letemeskel. While Scott was in Ethiopia, Levi was riding in the car with Ethan and Susan. It was a warm and quiet moment with Ethan and Levi both looking out the car window, and they shared this conversation together:

 Levi: "I like myself like dis."
Susan: "What do mean? "
Levi: "I really do believe now dat I can talk to God."
Levi: "I didn't believe it in Ethiopia. I was like 4 or something. Now I believe it."
Susan "What do you mean Levi? Tell me more."
Levi, "Every night I say prayer, quietly, in Tigrinya. I say for my sister to come to America. I pray like you say. Now she come to America and I believe God hear me when I talk Tigrinya or English. My life is good now... I believe God hear me."....." I hear him too. "
Levi: "Mom, why you cry?"
Susan: "I am proud, happy."
Levi: "I do not understand girls cry when day happy."

Soon after this moment, Scott and Letemeskel arrived in America where Susan and the rest of the children were waiting at the security gate. Everyone was very excited, but Levi was jumping for joy and when they were able to embrace one another as they walked through the gate, it was a moment we will never forget. Tears of joy were shared all around and we are truly blessed to be given a gift such as this to reunite these children who are now part of our forever family.

One of the great lessons we have learned as we have fostered the growth of our family into one that crosses borders across the world is that we are not special. We are not especially gifted parents with unique skills that give us the ability to raise adopted children. However, it is God's grace that has been given to us that has raised us up into parents who can now appreciate and treasure that our children bring a wealth of different life experiences into our family that we can all share together. We now see that all children are from God's family that deserve parents who can give them a loving home that fulfills their needs. As we have walked with God, he has shown us that it is our duty as Christians to help fulfill the needs of the children of the world. There are a multitude of ways of doing this, and adoption was the path that we chose to follow.

Scott and Susan Nichols

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Nichols {Part 1}

Scott and I had been married less than a year when I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer. I had felt a little lump under my arm and wanted to get it taken care of prior to getting pregnant. That little lump led to a biopsy that would change our lives forever. Cancer was seriously not part of my grand plan. I still wanted to have another child though and the darn cancer was holding up the show. It was getting in my way, my plan. I decided to take the most drastic measures to make sure that the cancer would not return. I had a bilateral mastectomy, 6 months of chemotherapy, followed by a couple months of radiation. The doctors had told me that all of these treatments would likely make me infertile.  That prognosis made me even more determined to not allow the cancer to rule my life. I would not give in. I would have a child with the man I so dearly loved and provide a sibling to my precious daughter. This was very important to me as I had only one brother whom I loved deeply. I had to do this for her.

I began to research adoption. I had always thought about it when I was a child but grew up in a broken home to very poor parents. I didn't think that it would ever actually be something that I could really do. It seemed out of my reach due to cost and lack of exposure to adoption itself. I had never known anyone who had adopted. Frankly, I had never known anyone who had breast cancer before either. So, while spent the next year in cancer treatment I pored over material on the internet for information about breast cancer, infertility and adoption. I learned so much that year. I had a great deal of time as the chemotherapy and radiation had left me so tired and weak I couldn't work as an RN, my profession. God knew exactly what He was doing.

Over that year I did not become infertile as we thought might be the case. I did, however, become very educated about how one person could change the life of a child in some dismal part of the world. I read for hours and hours about the suffering of children in Eastern European orphanages. How they are left alone, cold and hungry. I read about how children in China and India were never held for feeding; the bottles were simply propped up and then taken before they were finished. I read about babies being expected to sit on pots and pee on command. They would be physically punished for accidents. I also read about how children were overlooked due to their gender or a mild special need. The fight to beat cancer taught me to have the determination and tenacity to make international adoption a reality.

I would go on to contact an adoption agency locally that would help us write a homestudy and guide us to the country that was a good fit for us. I do remember that I finished the last day of my radiation and came home that evening to do our first homestudy visit. I wore a wig to cover my bald head. I was being called to make this happen. There was no greater tug my heart had felt than the one I felt toward adoption at that time. I felt that if I could just save one child, ONE, I would feel complete.

My husband and I decided on Russia and a sibling group under the age of 4. I told the agency that I felt drawn toward an Asian child from Russia as they were discriminated against.  They were like second class citizens there. Within a couple of hours I received an email with at least 10 Asian babies from all over Russia. I can't really remember how many because I couldn't take my eyes off of one little boy. His dark eyes and puffy cheeks jumped from the page. I assumed he would have a special need as I couldn't imagine a child that beautiful had not been chosen by a family yet. The agency responded that his only special need was that he was of Asian decent and he was a boy. I still shake my head in confusion about my sweet amazing little boy of only 9 months at that time, being passed over due to him being Asian and a boy. He was healthy in every other way. So that was it, from the moment I looked at his face I knew he was my chosen one. We had thought we'd adopt a sibling group, but God had a different plan. He laughed lovingly at me and suggested once again that I just learn to follow him.


After I went to Russia to meet my son Zachary, it was arranged for us to have second referral.  This time it was to be a blind referral. I had requested a girl. The referral for a girl was not meant to be. I was once again determined though and wouldn't leave Russia without a new referral. So, two weeks later the local authorities gave me a referral. They showed me a photo of a little boy who had a blank stare in his eyes. I went to meet this little boy. He was 11 months old and had been passed up by many families already. He was a premee being born 10 weeks early. I held him and he was stiff and stared at the lights above. His breath was heavy and his ribs retracted when he breathed. At first, he wouldn't make eye contact. When they brought his bottle, he didn't have the strength to suck the entire thing down. He gave up after only half a bottle. He was tiny and frail. I don't know how or why, but the Lord reached from his heart to mine and created a bond after only 1 hour that would be the strongest I had ever felt. He was my son. I looked into his little precious eyes and connected with him. My heart did not know the difference between the love I felt for him and the the love I feel for the daughter I gave birth to. Today it is only my mind that can tell the difference.

We went on through the process to adopt my two “waiting children.” Waiting because they were boys and because of the shape of their eyes. Waiting because one had been born too early and needed extra help. They waited because God knew they were my sons. He placed all these obstacles in my path to directing me to what His plan was in the very beginning. He placed the idea in my heart as a child. I thought I knew it all though and had a grand plan when I married Scott. All my children by the time I was 30. {Right! Ha}  He had a different plan.

One of our children, Ethan, did have some special needs that we discovered after he was in the US for a while. As it worked out, our precious son would not have lived without American medicine and treatments.  We would likely not have adopted a child with significant special needs at that time. This too was His plan.

There is a saying from Carolyn Macke Schwenzer that says, “ God doesn't give children with special needs to strong people; He gives children with special needs to ordinary, weak people and then gives them strength."

That saying is dear to our heart as each step of the way the Lord has led us down a different path than what we initially thought . Now, after 10 years and 6 children later, we try to just follow Gods path for us. He knows what he is doing.

God Bless,


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Seven {the point...}

If you didn't have a chance to read yesterday's post, please stop and read it before you go any further {pretty please?!:)}

So, here's the story...I "met" Sarah Kologek a couple of months ago through our agency's yahoo group.  We discovered that we'd received our referrals just four days apart.  I also found out that their referral was not for a baby, but for a SEVEN year old precious little girl named Rediate.  Because of the fact that our Melia was about to turn SEVEN, the Kologek's story resonated deeply within my heart. 

Sarah and I have exchanged messages, prayers, and words of encouragement throughout the last couple of months and now YOU have an opportunity to help them bring their little girl home.  Find out how at the end of their story...

We are a Jesus-loving family of 3 - soon to be 4!! Through prayer and scripture, God has called us into His ministry of adoption. We feel blessed that He has chosen this path for us as a reflection of our own adoptions as His children. Our adoption journey officially began Jan. 21, 2011. After completing the initial wave of paperwork, Janet Jenkins worked with us to complete our Home Study, and we began the wait to be matched with the child God had chosen for us. After only waiting for 7 weeks, we officially accepted our referral from Children's Hope International November 14, 2011 for a healthy and beautiful 7 year old girl whose name means gift from God.

Rediate was born in Ethiopia in November 2004 (American calendar). Relinquished just 8 months ago due to the illness of her parents, she has become incredibly connected to the caregivers and children at the transition home.  During our initial visit to Ethiopia, we were amazed at what a giving and confident girl the Lord had placed in our lives. Rediate was immediately affectionate with us, and made a clear connection with our 8 year old daughter, Rowan. We passed court Feb 2, 2012 and we are now waiting for the call to travel back to Ethiopia to bring our daughter home.

One of the biggest reasons we felt we were called into His ministry of adoption was to open ourselves up to what God might do in our lives. We knew we had to grow in our dependence of the Lord. We have held numerous fundraisers and we have raised all but $4000 of our adoption costs. Praise God!! If we'd had the money up front, we would not have been as verbal as we have been about God's faith and love for His children and about how anything is possible with Him. To some, the cost may seem like a road block; to us, it was a sign that God is a part of our process. God has made it clear to us that He will provide the $4000 needed to complete this chapter of our story in His timing and through His people. We are so blessed to have so many people working hard to bring our daughter home into her forever family. Thank you all so much for being a part of our daughter's story, our story, our family in the making.

Sarah, Ian, Rowan, and Rediate Kologek

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28


So, it occurred to me that WE...all of you and me could quickly and easily help the Kologeks bring sweet Rediate home.  Here's how...

Click HERE to pay by
Log into your PayPal account
Type in the amount you want to donate
Put sarahkologek@yahoo.com in the recipient

You can select to donate as much as you feel led, but I'd like to challenge you to donate an amount that is significant to you. 
Maybe you'll select SEVEN, because Rediate is SEVEN years old.  Maybe you'll donate TWENTY-TWO because if you add up ages of your children, that's the sum.  Maybe you'll donate TEN because our little Bek is ten months old and you're helping to pray him home.  Maybe you'll donate FIFTY in honor of a significant someone's age. 

Whatever number you decide, be sure to note in the comment section WHY that amount is significant.

Ready?  Pray. Donate. Be Blessed.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Before our first "Adopting the Waiting Child" post {tomorrow!  EEK!  so excited!!}, I want to share something that God has laid on my heart. 

For just a minute, I want you to envision my sweet baby girl, Melia. 

In case you missed it, this amazing blessing from God just turned SEVEN!!

I cannot say enough about what Melia means to our family.  She is relishing in turning SEVEN and anytime she sees the number or someone says the number, she says "Mommy!  SEVEN...just like me!"  {She's a numbers kinda girl}.

Now I want you to envision what it would be like for our sweet girl if something happened and Trevor and I suddenly couldn't raise her.  Also, please imagine if there were no friends or family who were willing and able to take her in as their own.  Our sweet baby girl would be considered an orphan.  And, because of her age, SEVEN, she would be hard to place, a waiting child.

I share this not to be morbid, but, rather, to help give perspective to who would truly be considered a waiting child.

And, to plant a seed....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Adopting the Waiting Child 2012


Last February, we did a series on our little ol' blog called "Adopting the Waiting Child".  The series was born out of a tugging in my heart to bring an awareness about children who sit on waiting lists waiting for a mother and father to bring them home; a forever family.

The stories of the families that you read last year on our blog and those that you will meet this year highlight children who have waited for various reasons...they were "older" {a child who is over 2 is often overlooked by families looking to adopt because they are no longer infants}, they had minor to severe special needs, they were minorities in their birth country, or they were malnourished. 

These stories will also show what happens when we set aside our own personal agendas and fully rely on Christ.  He is a friend to the orphan and the Author of our own adoptions into His family.  Christ provides us with a beautiful picture of adoption when he allows us to become His children.

I pray that you do not take these stories lightly.  I pray that as you read them they will strike a chord in your heart and that you will respond.  Whether that means you research waiting children with an open heart asking God to reveal YOUR child to you or if it means you support someone as they pursue a waiting child, please be sensitive to what Christ wants to whisper into your heart through the stories of these families.

Lastly, the families who provided their stories will be reading their posts.  Please comment words of encouragement to each family freely. :)

**What's that?  You missed last year?!  Well, you're in for a treat...click here for Adopting the Waiting Child 2011.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Top Ten

Knowing that we have another month {roughly} before we will have a court date, I am resolving to make a top ten list of things to accomplish while we wait. I chose ten in honor of the fact that our little man turned

months old on Sunday. We got new pictures and it looks like he has really grown!!  Side note: We were told that he loves dum dum suckers {ah, the Chase sweet tooth...it transcends borders!} and in the most recent pictures, it appears that he is wearing underwear, which makes sense because they start potty training at 9 months!

Anyway, without further ado, the top ten things to get done before Bek turns 11 months...

Read a book from start to finish {book is selected and started...Kisses from Katie}

Memorize weekly scriptures each week {our church is doing "A Year with Jesus" and we are given a scripture card each week}

Have some "girl time" with just me and Melia

Go on a date with my hubby

Take Camden on a Mother/Son date

Send a present to a friend that has been super supportive in our adoption

Organize and carry out the "Adopting a Waiting Child" series the last half of February

Do t-shirt fundraiser~Adoption Rocks 2012

Finish taggie blankets {I have three that I just keep putting off! :) }

Get a pedicure and a haircut

OK, here I go...off to start my list! :)