Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chotu's Letters-21 Months

Leap Frog products are amazing.  The Leap Frog Letter Factory video had all of my kids saying their letter sounds before they were two years old.  I'm not normally a big fan of learning by video, but this was so painless and fast, I'd highly recommend it.  The kids love it, and have all gotten a head start on reading due to this video, and the follow-up, the Talking Words Factory.  We also really love the Sing Along Read Along set with beginning readers.

Here's Chotu, saying all his letter sounds (except Q, thanks for pointing that out, Sis), at 21 months old.  (Sorry for the bad videography... and the repetitive shots of his diaper... and un-clothedness... he's potty training)...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Plea for Prayer

We heard through our agency two important things are happening this week.

One, the staff of adoption agencies in Ethiopia are meeting to discuss how to handle the situation with the Embassy and what to do.

Two, the USCIS is holding a meeting to discuss what is happening with the US Embassy in Ethiopia. Our agency will be a part of this meeting.

This year, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa has made some changes in the way they are processing adoption cases and the visa applications related to them.  The evidence that has always been acceptable to prove a child's orphan status and need to be adopted has suddenly come under scrutiny and is often not acceptable anymore.  The way Ethiopia processes cases is no longer being trusted and the Embassy has decided they need to do their own investigations, re-interview birth parents, request documents that are not generally issued in Ethiopia like death certificates, and even gone to the length of requesting police reports and court decrees to be re-worded, for the US Embassy's sake.

There are reasons behind this, but they do not justify this kind of overall demand by the Embassy, and the slow down that has resulted in bringing children home.  Before this year, parents were waiting about two months after their adoption was legal and finalized to bring their children home.  This is an excruciating wait already.  Now, parents are waiting at least four months usually before the Embassy allows them to come and pick up their child with the necessary American visa in hand.

I understand if the program in Ethiopia needs more accountability.  There definitely have been cases of adoptions that did not happen in the most upright or legal manner.  But after the adoption is finalized is not the time to be checking into all these things.  Once the Ethiopian court rules, the adoption is final.  This is the point where the Embassy has decided to investigate whether the child is truly adoptable.  Um, too late.  Already adopted.

Please pray with me that this situation would resolve for the good of all the children.  Our agency right now has 30 babies in the baby room. 30.  Lots of these are already adopted, but can't go home yet because the Embassy is not issuing the American visas quickly.  And that's not even taking in to account the older children that are there, wondering if those Americans who came and loved them for a week months ago are ever really going to come back...

Please join me in praying this week that these meetings would result in moving mountains and getting these kids home.

If you want to do something, consider writing your Congressman or the US State Department about this situation. Contact me for more information!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


With our agency, International Adoption Guides, we are privileged to be a part of an online group where we can interact with other families in the process with the same agency.  Often, usually at least monthly, families are traveling to Ethiopia for their court appointments and Embassy appointments.  IAG allows and encourages families to carry care packages for other people's children when they go, and take as many photos as they can when they visit the care centers.  Families upload these photos to a private picasa account that we all have access to. I can't tell you how wonderful this has been for us.  We have access to many other families that we can ask questions to.  We often get updates on the Embassy and what's happening with different people's cases.  We celebrate together when people get referrals, or pass court, or get their Embassy appointment.  It's become a little online community that has really blessed us.  It's nice to see things happening for other people, even if nothing's happening for you, and you don't feel like you're in a big black hole of waiting. : )

This month, since the courts are re-opening, there's a ton of families heading over right now.  People are talking back and forth about care packages, who to send what to and who's taking what.  It's fun to watch, but it's a bit sad to know our little girl won't be getting one when nearly all the other kids do.  I'm glad that she's so little and won't know the difference. : )

But then, another mom who got her referral the same day we did, sent me an email.  She said she knew we lived overseas, and so she wanted to put together a care package for our little girl.  I was so surprised and just brought to tears.  I've never met this woman.  I've only emailed with her a few times.  But she was reading my mind!  Here is the sweet care package she put together for our girl:

Can I just say, I LOVE that the snuggly blanket has an elephant head!! How perfect is that for a girl who's headed to Rajasthan! : )

So, we are anxiously looking forward to seeing pictures of her with these new things, just for her, and the photo of us waiting for her.

In the meantime, we are praying some specific things:
-We pray that our paperwork would be finished quickly
-We pray that the documentation, investigation, and evidence of her orphan status would be clear and obvious without any room for doubt.
-We pray for all the families ahead of us, that their cases would move through without delay or complications and those precious children can come HOME
-We pray for her health and her weight to increase
-We pray that she will grab the heart of one nanny who will love on her and spoil her until we get there
-We are praying now that she will be granted a visa to come to India in her Ethiopian passport

We'd love for you to join us in praying for our sweet girl until she's home with us!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tapestry: Week 9 &10

We hit a slump last week.  It was the end of the unit, and the kids were getting a little bored with more stories of the wandering Israelites in the desert.  I was a bit ready to move on myself.  We didn't do much last week in the way of activities except for this:
I think this is a pretty cool activity.  It was pretty simple to do... and the kids got to practice the names of the 12 tribes and see how perfectly God designed the camp so the Tabernacle was protected from all sides. 

I appreciated the organization that went into this.  Every time the Israelites made camp, each tribe and family knew right where to set up their camp based on the location of the Tabernacle.  That must have made the process so much smoother.

For week 10, I haven't taken any pictures.  None.  L has hit his own slump of bad attitude.  He's having a hard time listening to stories and answering questions this week.  He's not wanting to do any history reading at all.  He rushes through his work boxes. I think it's time for a break.  We have a break week planned week after next, but we might have to take it slow and light next week and just play together and work on character development to remind ourselves of how we are to behave in this house. : )  Some weeks are better than others, I'm learning. This week had the potential to be great fun.  I think we might continue the Tapestry Week 10 next week, because it was covering ancient Indian civilizations, and I feel like we barely scraped the surface.  We'll hopefully dive in a little deeper next week!

For now...

Our house is about 1000 square feet.  Maybe 1100 if I'm being generous.  I so long for a "school" room where I can hang up maps and posters and keep all the school mayhem contained and just close the door. But right now, I don't have that.  And I don't know if I ever will.  For a few weeks, I've been obsessing over finding an apartment with the right combination of things I want, which is crazy, because we can't even move for over a year.  Not until after we bring our daughter home, or we'll have to update our home study, which is much easier said than done while living overseas.

So we're here.  In this little home.  And I decided I'm going to try to make it work long term.  Why not?  Why keep looking for something better when it does not seem like I'll actually find it. : )  There's a lot that goes into this, but the Apostle Paul said, "For I have learned in whatever situation, I am to be content." (Philippians 4:11).  So I'm trying to be content with our small home, and make the best of the small space.

It takes a lot of work to stay organized in a small space.  I'm constantly going through clothes, toys, art supplies, all kinds of things, and tossing stuff we haven't used in awhile to make room for things we need or do use.  Pinterest is helping me with ideas of how to organize, store, use wasted space, consolidate, etc.  We got rid of a desk cabinet that I absolutely loved this week.  It was hard to part with it.  But it didn't function as much more than a computer desk for me, and it was really large and did not use our limited space well.  Instead, I bought this beautiful new cabinet to keep all our school books and supplies in the dining room. Before, the only spot we had was in our bedroom.  It was really inconvenient to everyday, haul everything from the bedroom to the dining room table.  Now, it's all right there, and it doesn't look too bad. : ) I can live with it!

Hopefully coming next week is also a two person desk I'm having built to go in our bedroom.  I got rid of my desk, so have to have somewhere to keep my computer!  We're getting rid of Paul's desk and chair (that I've always loathed, yay!) to make way for a custom designed two person desk and new chairs.  I put it all together myself, inspired by Pinterest.  We'll see how it comes together! I hope I did well on guessing the size of desk our room can handle! : )

Here's to being organized and free of clutter!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Last 2 of Our Dozen Beautiful Feet...

Until we have our court hearing declaring this little girl ours, we can't share much about her.  But for now, these are the feet that will make ours an even dozen...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Then I Saw Her Face...

After years of waiting, and months of paperwork, and three months of more waiting, we've seen her face. Friday night, my phone rang and I noticed it was a number from the US.  I answered and was greeted by our adoption coordinator.  My eyes I'm sure got huge, knowing that could only mean one thing... it was time!  She said, "I've got a little girl I want to tell you about."  I think I was only half listening to everything she said, trusting that it would all come in an email in a few minutes.  I was trying to repeat everything to Paul.  Oh, my, it was so exciting!  We received the email a few minutes later, read through all the text and scrolled down and both gasped when we saw her photos.  She is so, so tiny, and so young.  But such big beautiful eyes!  I so wish I could show her picture, but it will have to wait. We officially accepted her referral today, and now the ball is rolling.  I can't stop looking at her face!  We're trying to decide on a name soon so that we can have something to call her.  I will share more of her story in the coming days, but for now, the name she has is not one that we will keep for reasons I will explain later.

Please celebrate with us!  But please also pray for her.  She is off the bottom of the growth chart on her weight, our doctor suspects she is malnourished.  This girl needs to put weight on, and put it on fast.  Thankfully she's in a place where she'll be getting fed well whenever she wants it.  Please pray she will be healthy and grow, baby grow! : )