Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Friend from Afar

This past weekend Solomon visited us.

Solomon is so special to me. He helped me establish a relationship with B when he lived at Kolfe. In the very beginning he helped B set up an email account, he translated my emails and typed B's emails, he coordinated Skype sessions and translated for B.

In the early days, I spoke to Solomon more often than I spoke to B! Avery and I prayed for Solomon to come to America and we rejoiced when he arrived last June.

After nearly two years of chatting online, we finally met in person. It was wonderful to have him here. I loved asking him a million and one questions about B and Kolfe. And he so graciously answered them all! I was reminded about how much I love Ethiopians and how I wish I could be more like them. So humble, selfless and so full of grace.

The kids loved having Solomon visit...especially the girls. Amelle kept asking him if he wanted to ride the ATV. Lost in translation, Solomon would go into the TV room. Amelle continued to ask him and then it became apparent that he was thinking "a TV". We finally got him on the ATV.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

It's Good To Be... Canobie!

Today we made our annual pilgrimage to Canobie Lake Park. We were accompanied by Solomon, Wendy, and Will.

We checked out the new rollercoaster. Twice.

We missed having Grandma, Shaun, Joelle, & Mina with us.

But we managed to have a good time anyway!

Friday, June 24, 2011

I'm Really Bad at This

We got approved for a fundraising account through Lifesong. Lifesong is an awesome organization that provides fundraising support for people who are adopting. Their administrative costs are covered by another organization, so every cent that is donated through Lifesong goes directly towards helping families with adoption costs. Donations are all tax-free, which is awesome.

They provided us sample support letters which I can't bring myself to write. I just can't. Maybe that's sinful pride. It probably is. Lord please help me with that.

However, in His infinite graciousness, He did provide me with a way to raise support via photography in a way that allows me to give more than I receive. This I am comfortable with. Maybe too comfortable. When people do offer to give me a donation in exchange for their photographs, I try to convince them not to. What is wrong with me?

The truth of the matter is that we've managed to out-of-pocket $10k thus far. We are on the cusp of owing $7200, which we don't have. Then we'll have to pay travel expenses and B's plane ticket home (yay!). I am confident that God will provide, despite the broken vessel that is me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Heart of Adoption

The adoption process is extremely difficult. Probably even more difficult when you 1) have an existing relationship/bond with the child your adopting, and 2) are working in the international realm - where "anything can happen". My heart would like an opportunity to tell it's side of the adoption story:

I was just pumping along minding my own business, and then out of nowhere BAM - I'm flooded with love. Mama love. (the worst kind - in my opinion - cause that stuff can hurt - bad). She has three other kids, so I know what I'm doing with this mama love stuff. But this one was different - cause it was love and sadness all wrapped up together and I didn't know what to do with that. The waiting seemed to be taking it's toll, so...I just jumped ship. I literally fell out of her chest and landed on the floor. As if the fall to the floor wasn't painful enough, I was then stomped on by a large African elephant that happened to be walking by. Then the elephant grabbed my flattened beating bloody self with it's long nose-thingy and tossed me into the open air. I momentarily enjoyed the fleeting freedom of floating through the air, when I abruptly landed into the jaws of a swamp alligator. The alligator slammed his powerful jaws down on me, digested me, and then pooped me out into a swap where I was inevitably devoured again - this time by a horrific smelling, slimy, swamp creature.

That's what the adoption process feels like. So far.

It's a real life fairy tale.

Father's Day

Thinking of my dad today.

I really really miss having him around.

He would be loving his 8 crazy grandchildren. Oh how he would LOVE that both Shaun and I ended up with 4 kids each. 4boys, 4 girls. Our small 4-person family has multiplied into a large family of 12. He would've LOVED that.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Today we celebrated 2 graduations and a birthday.

When you have a big family, things tend to get clustered together.

Ariel graduated from High School. Joelle graduated from 8th grade. Avery is turning 12 next week.

Since Avery couldn't attend his own birthday party (because he went to the Red Sox game with Dirt). We celebrated the girls' graduation.

Oh..and the stuffed their presents inside these desert items and told them they needed to fetch them without using their hands. They were both successful (although slightly sticky).

Good times.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I recently received this picture of B from a friend who delivered a package (and letter) from us. I have literally received hundreds of photographs of B over the years, but this photograph haunts me like no other. His expression in this photo grieves my heart.

That look is not joy. It's a quiet suffering. It's longing.

We're longing too, sweetheart. Praying that you'll be home soon, precious son.

Mom & Dad

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Amaya agreed to let me take pictures of her on Monday.

Sort of.

She so goofy that it's almost impossible to catch her looking normal.

But then again, normal is overrated.

I like her weirdness.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Auntie Camera

When Beckett was born we used to joke that he would grow up not knowing what my face looked like because I always had a camera in front of it. "Auntie Camera", he'd call me...the rather mechanical-looking one who is always clicking away.

When I began pulling together my photography stuff to "go public" I decided to formalize my family nickname and set my site up as "Auntie Camera". I'm not a professional photographer, I'm really just a click-happy auntie.

So...I invite you to visit my photography site at

I also have a new little blog brewing. I haven't been especially good about keeping this one updated, so don't expect much from the new one. I just felt like I needed a place where I could occasionally use words.

Pray for me. :-)

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Real Baby

I finally got a real baby to photograph.

How precious is this little dumpling?

2 months out of the womb and already a perfect model!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

When are you due?

Yesterday I thought to myself, "I'm getting better at waiting. I think God has finally given me the virtue of patience". Earlier in the day I received our CIS approval in the mail. I immediately got it notarized and was Fed Ex'ing it to the state to get authenticated. I had been waiting for this document for almost 60 days. It is the last piece of paper needed for our adoption. When I had this "epiphany" about how good I was getting at waiting I was in the process of using Fed Ex to get it where it needed to go as quickly as possible. Oh the irony.

The reality is that I had a sliver of peace because I just received a long-awaited document. My peace was circumstantial. It wasn't Paul's peace, the God-peace that transcends circumstances. My phony little sense of peace and patience was shaken when I read a recent update about the slow down of processing adoption cases in Ethiopia. Darkness.

Today I was completely restless. I can't wait any longer. It's too difficult. He just needs to be here. Now.

I sent an email to our case-worker asking for an update on our referral. I updated my four adoption spreadsheets and reviewed my timelines. I emailed B and told him things that mamas say to their sons. I received photos and kind words from some folks who just returned from Ethiopia and had the opportunity to meet my sweet boy and see his smile. But nothing soothed my restlessness.

To top it off, people are asking me about him all the time now. It's like being 7 months pregnant only you have no idea when you're due. "I hear your adopting, when are you expecting your new child?" - I have nothing to give them but a shoulder shrug and an apologetic, "We're praying that he'll be here this fall...but things are really slow with Ethiopian adoptions right now". When Christians ask I tell them that God will need to move mountains to get him here this fall, but we know that He can. Some days I say this more confidently than others.

Today I was weak.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Pathways Training

Dirt and I went to Pathways adoption training this weekend in NYC. I honestly was not looking forward to going. I figured that they were going to paint awful pictures of older child adoption using worst case scenarios and horrific case studies. I could just see myself fleeing from the room after the instructor showed us clips from the horror movie "Orphan".

However, I was pleasantly surprised. The training was actually awesome. Super-awesome. And I left feeling extremely encouraged. Invigorated even.

We explored our parenting styles (did you know that 98% of the way we parent comes from our mothers?) Woah! We also learned parenting techniques based on Dr. Purvis' research (Her book is called, "The Connected Child").

Here's an example of how the technique might look:

Child: I want a drink
Parent: Are you asking me or telling me? (in playful tone)
Child: Please may I have a drink

Here's another example:

Parent: Can you put your shoes on?
Child: I'm busy playing a game
Parent: (goes over to child and gets in their space, forces eye contact) I'm going to give you two options, 1) would you like to get your shoes on by yourself, or 2) do you want me to walk you over to your shoes and help you get your shoes on? (the options can be whatever you want)
[at this point, the child will most likely choose one of the options. If not, you move to stage 3 which is the "think about it stage". If you get to stage 3, you basically tell the child that they need to think about what they want to do - until they come to the conclusion that they are going to comply. This should take place near you, but the child isn't allowed to play with anything during that time.)

Though the techniques are specifically aimed at helping adopted children connect to their new families, they can be used with biological kids too. Dirt and I were skeptical about how these techniques would play out "in real life" and planned to test them out on Amaya.

We didn't need to wait long for an opportunity...

Me: You need to take a bath
Maya: I don't want to
Me: (moved in close, got in her space, made eye contact with kind eyes and warmly spoke), "I'll give you two choices: You can go upstairs and get in the bath OR I can give you a piggyback ride up the stairs and you can get in the bath. Which would you like?
Maya: (said nothing, she just got up and hung on my back).

Tee hee! It worked!!! I carried her joyfully up the stairs and she got in the bath without any problems! It was like magic!

I tested the various techniques two additional times today and each time I got the same fantastically easy result! I love my new skillz!