Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Unlikely Subjects

It seems like I've been taking a lot of pictures lately...but none of my peeps. On Sunday I had big hopes of dragging the kids out for a photo shoot as a replacement to the 2011 school pictures that I refuse to purchase. But by the time we got hair combed no one was in the mood to get dressed and go on a photo adventure with me.

So...I did what any mother would do...I bribed them for a few quick pics in the yard.

If I don't get around to taking them out for a formal shoot, I will at least have these. I'm calling this one the school photo shot. This is what Amelle looked like in 5th grade, in case anyone ever needs to know.

...and this one...well..she's a nut. She wanted to get dressed in her prom dress (with flip flops) and wanted wet hair so it layed flat and would not let me touch it to fix the part. She absolutely loves this picture. She asked me to put it on Facebook. She thinks she looks sixteen and even asked me to show Avery to see if he could figure out who it was. Um...she's crazy. Crazy cute.

Oh, and what do we have here? The world's oldest student? Not quite. I recently came across a photography challenge that started and ended with taking a self-portrait. I don't really have any photographs of me, which I'm really okay with...but figured it might be good to try to take some.

Of course...once the camera was set up...I had company...

What was even better than taking self-portraits was taking photos of me with Amaya. I think I'm going to try to get pics of me with each of the kids soon. My friend Nancy recently recommended a remote for my camera which I would love to get. I'm sure it'll be a thousand times better than the self-timer.

I'm looking forward to setting up a photobooth-type activity for the family soon. Stay tuned for some interesting pics!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life in Limbo - Adoption

On Saturday I had a great phone conversation with B. I love when we can get beyond the normal, "I love you, how are you, I miss you, school is good" stuff. Our conversations will go wherever his language skills and my understanding skills will take us. On Saturday we laughed together about a mutual friend. It wasn't really all that funny, but it sure tickled him - and once he started laughing..well..that laugh is just infectious. I began laughing and the sound of both of us laughing at the same time was some good medicine.

When the laughter faded he said he wanted to skype soon [pause] ..then "I miss your face". My heart sighed deeply. .... I miss his face too. I will skype with him, although I know that skype won't satisfy. Nothing will fill the void. Nothing can satisfy the longing of a mother's heart to have her child safe in her arms. I'm sensing that B is longing in the same way - for the comfort of his mother's arms too. (...he marvels at my fat arms, "mom, your arms are sooo fat". Gotta love that. Skinny arms need not apply.)

Today a FB message from B read, "Hi Mom, I love you I miss you so much!!! Mom you are the best of best in my life mom. I love you so much!!!!!"

What am I suppose to do with that? Writing back "I love you too" doesn't seem like enough. But then again, boarding the next plane to Africa seems like overkill. So I'm stuck. Holding his adoration in my heart. I suppose I should cherish that expression of love - surely once he gets here and is subjected to my drill sargentry (mostly just in the mornings), he'll change his mind about me. Maybe he'll downgrade me from "the best of the best" to "good" or "tolerable". I don't know.

I just miss him.

Last week I came across this dried up, flattened little rose bud (pictured above). B gave that to me the day I met him in early 2009. As I was getting ready to leave Kolfe he plucked it off of a rose bush and handed it to me. Maybe he hoped that it would help me remember him? Ha...did I ever. The rose bud might not look like much now, but to me it is a beautiful symbol of the day God planted the seed of a son in my heart.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Big Daddy

This post might need to be filed under "Things That Are Only Amusing To Me". I apologize in advance.

I'm away. Out of town. In a hotel. ...which means that Dirt and I had a great chance to catch up last night. Don't ask me how that works. When he's in bed next to me we don't always chat, when he's not...we do. Weird.

Anyway...we were catching up on events from Monday...the day he and Avery went on a field trip. Let me back up a little bit....the kids are at a new school this year. A very small school where the 10-15 kids per class migrate from grade to grade with each other. The social circles are tight and when Avery asked if I could chaperone his field trip, I assumed something was up. Socially. Like maybe he was afraid he wouldn't have anyone to sit with on the bus and his mom was a better option than sitting alone. I don't know? I have no real proof, I just found it odd that he was requesting that I chaperone. Normally Avery is socially adept and moves confidently and easily in and out of social circles. For this reason, he doesn't usually want his mom hanging around.

The Lord must've intervened because I was about to call Dirt and tell him that I though HE should go on the field trip, when an email came in from him saying that he thought he should chaperone. (Love when that happens).

So Monday was the day of the big field trip. Dirt rode on the bus with Avery and 30 other boisterous kids. He was responsible for a group of boys - Avery and his buddies. Apparently one of Avery's friends is a "leader" - he's bold, funny and kids follow him. This particular boy seemed to really like Dirt. At one point he overheard Avery call Dirt, "Daddy" and then decided that he was going to call Dirt "Daddy". Then somewhere along the lines "Daddy became "Big Daddy" and by mid day all the boys in his group were calling him "Big Daddy". Much to Dirt's amusement.

On the way home, the leader boy was organizing various chants on the bus. They would call out names and then a chant would ensue. Of course, a "Big Daddy" chant was imminent. But then out came another chant, "We Love You Big Daddy!". ...from 30 kids on the bus.

As Dirt was telling me this story, I'm cracking up. Dying. Tears are rolling down my cheeks. I'm concerned that someone from hotel management is going to come knocking on my door because they think I might be slaughtering a hyena in my room.

If you know Dirt, you know that he is a gentle giant. He is the most mild-mannered guy; so quiet and unassuming. He's so not the "Big Daddy" type.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's A Boy!

We got our referral today! It's a boy. He's 66.5 inches long and 92 lbs. The labor has been arduous and the delivery ain't over yet.

My cell phone rang at 5:11p (does anyone else find this mildy amusing?) - and even though I saw my social worker's name, I figured she was just calling to tell me why things weren't progressing. It wasn't until I answered and heard her sing songy happy voice that I realized that THIS might be THE call. "Are you ready to receive some emails?"

Um..heck yeah.

Okay...so it's not like most referrals where the parents have no idea what they're getting. I confess that I already knew most of the stuff in the referral. But this call was far from anti-climactic because that awful waiting is over. We are "offically matched" with him. There is now certainty that we're getting submitted when courts re-open. No more paper cuts.


We have arrived at our current destination. Next stop: Waitsville. (Didn't we just leave there?)

1) Court opens Oct 8, we get submitted then.
2) We wait for a court date (estimate 2-4 months).
3) Once we pass court we are officially his parents!
4) We wait for an embassy date (usually 2-4 weeks from court).
5) I travel to Ethiopia to attend the embassy appointment with him and bring him home!

I am praying the impossible: to have him home by Christmas. I know this is unlikely - but I'm convinced that God likes my crazy BIG prayers....so I will continue to pray them! Please join me!

This is happening people. Really happening! Holla!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rockin' the Rocket

Last week, "rocket parts" mysteriously appeared in the house.

Apparently Dirt and Avery had been to the hobby shop.

It didn't take a rocket scientist (ha!) to figure out that the rocket essentials that laid dormant in my dining room would soon be used to construct a rocket...that would one day be launched from our backyard...

...and used as an awesome microphone.

Sunday was the big day.

holy smokes..

She blasted off into the heavens, released her parachute, and descended oh so carelessly back down to earth.

Are rockets feminine, like boats? Anyone know?

Ground zero will never be the same.

Actually it will. It already is. I just felt like this story needed a bit of poignancy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

I’m not looking forward to tomorrow. Not because it’s Monday…not directly anyway…though that doesn’t help. It’s because I fear the paper cut. Let me explain.

Our adoption process was going along swellingly well. Things were smooth, our agency was helping to move things along quickly because of B’s age. My plan was to have him home in September and on most days I believed that was going to happen. I was praying, my small group was praying..and things were happening! God things – like getting our fingerprints done early, our agency working on B’s referral before our CIS approval came back, and our CIS approval coming back in record time. My calculations had us getting our referral about a week after our dossier was in Addis. Amazing timing. This was in early July – which meant that we could get submitted to court before the August closure. Life was good.

Each day I waited expectantly for the call from my social worker (sw) between 10a –12p. You see, my sw had assured me that the referral should be complete "soon" – they had mostly everything, they were just waiting on one piece of paper. At one point she even told me that she could actually read me the referral, it just wouldn’t be “official” until they got that last piece of paper. I just knew that any day I’d get the call, and I assumed, based on my complex mathematical calculations that it would be between the hours of 10am and 12pm.

For those who are so inclined to step inside my brain (a scary, scary, place), here is my complex mathematical rationale: Ethiopia is 9 hours ahead of Texas, so by the time my sw gets to work in the morning, the workday in Ethiopia is already over. Therefore any new news on our case would be waiting in her email box upon her 8am arrival. Since we are 2 hours ahead of TX, her 8am is my 10am. I figured that she’d call me within the first 2 hours of her workday because surely she isn’t going to save a referral call until the end of the day – it’s kind of a big deal. Okay, now you can get out of my brain…it’s super crowded in here – between you and all the words to Led Zeppelin songs from my college days…there just isn’t room for much more.

Back to the story…

Every day I was infused with hope as 10am rolled around…but by 12pm…my shoulders rounded forward as hope drained from my body. As the last drop of hope exited at precisely 12pm, a sting of sadness would settle in. A paper cut on my heart.

As of today, I have endured 50 paper cuts. Although my sw assures me that everything is fine with B’s case, she is just waiting on the Ethiopian sw to email her the last piece of paper, which should be “any day”….tomorrow at high noon I will likely receive my 51st paper cut. I’m sorry if that sounds defeated and dreary. I have heard “should be any time now” or “should be next week” at least 10 times – and last week when she told me “should be early next week” I decided not to believe her. Sort of. Because I want so strongly for this to be true I will unwillingly, expectantly await her call between 10a-12p. I can’t help it.

I keep reminding myself that it doesn’t really matter when I get the referral because the courts are closed now anyway, I just need to get it before they re-open in October – that's all that really matters. That’s the logical part of my brain talking. However, I don’t live there. I live here: Dude. At this point, I just need it. I need that part of this process to be done. Now. I can't wait another day. I can't wait another second. I need some chocolate.

Lord, please let tomorrow be the day. Thank you. Amen.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Today is B's birthday (a story for another day). Normally when one of my kids has a birthday I'm busy figuring out cake and gifts and how to make the day special. Today was different. Despite my prayers for him to be home by the time his birthday rolled around, he was not. This was the birthday email I sent him:

Happy Birthday sweet boy!

On your birthday I am reflecting on a few things that I'd like to share with you:

1) The preciousness of your life. Read Psalm 139 today. You will see that you were precious to God before you were born. He tells us that you are wonderfully made! His work is good - he made you perfect in his eyes and you are precious to Him who created you. He knows the plan for your life - all the pages of your life were written before even one of them came to be. I know that you have suffered pain in your life. I know that your life with your birth-mom wasn't easy and your life at Kolfe has not been good - but God will use those experiences somehow, someway for your good and His glory. Romans 8 tells us that he works all things together for the good of those who love Him. He is at work in your life! He has a beautiful plan for you and it is good!

2) Your past and your future. Today, as we celebrate your birth I think about your past. I think about your birth-mom who gave you life. I think about her carrying you in her belly and her labor to have you. I think about her holding you and carrying you and kissing your forehead when you were a precious little baby. Oh how she must have loved you - you were such a beautiful baby boy! When I think about some of the hard times you had with her my heart hurts that you didn't feel loved. I think about how difficult it must've been when she died. How your little heart must've been confused and sad. I wish I had known you then so that I could've lifted you up and held you in my arms and told you that I love you and that I would be your new mom and I would take you home with me and never, ever, ever leave you. I wish I could've told you back then about your future in America - where you will one day live. I wish I could've told you about your new mom and dad that love you - and your little brother and two little sisters, your grandmas, your aunts and uncles, and your church family - and all the love that so many people have for you. I wish we could go back to that day so I could hold you and tell you about all these great things that your future holds.

3) I think about where I was 15 years ago today - the day you were born. I was just meeting your dad. We met the year you were born. I fell in love with him when I met him and I knew we would someday marry. We had our first conversation about adoption in October of 1996 - while you were still a newborn baby. We had no idea when we dreamed about one day adopting - that our son had just been born on a distant continent halfway across the world. We did not know - but God knew! This was part of His plan!

4) I think about you today. I hope you have a fun day celebrating with your friends. My heart longs to have you here with us so that we could celebrate your birth together. I want to look you in the eyes and tell you how happy I am that you were born. I want you to know how good God is to give us such a special son. I want you to know that you are so loved and so precious to me and dad and we will always care about you and look after your best interests. We will help you choose the right direction in life. We will always pray for you. Me and dad will always love you.

I hope you know how precious you are. You are loved by God and you are loved by your family!


Thursday, September 01, 2011

Seriously God?

Today God rocked my world. Check this out:

This morning I was chatting with a friend from church who stopped by the house to finish up some work he had done for us a while back. He mentioned that he was going to NY. When I nosily asked why, he shared that he was going to help with a ministry that was in need of some labor. As he was telling me about his trip I felt compelled to give him a $50 Visa Gift Card that I had hanging on our refrigerator. I thought maybe he could use it for gas. Someone had given me the gift card a few months ago as a thank you for taking photographs of her baby. I hung it on the refrigerator not really knowing what I was suppose to do with it.

Immediately after I felt the urge to give him the gift card, my own selfishness began to seep in. I began thinking of reasons why I should keep the card for myself and what I could use it for. However, my greedy thoughts were abruptly halted when I sensed God saying, “Give him the gift card, I can do so much more”. I sighed to myself, headed into the house, obediently grabbed the card off the refrigerator, and then walked back outside and gave it to our friend. He thanked me and then he left. It was 11:59am.

At 12:06 I checked my email and found a message from my caseworker. The email said that we had received a $2000 grant towards our upcoming adoption costs!

Um. Tears. Laughter. Praise. Ephesians 3:20.

Seriously God, You are amazing. Thank you for loving me so much and allowing me to hear Your subtle voice and see Your mighty hand at work! You are the author of all that is good.