Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Adoption = Pregnancy fallacy

I'm guilty.
I said it.
I maybe even blogged about it,
but I'm too lazy to go back and check now.
In adoption circles a lot of times
people compare stages of the adoption to pregnancy.
Finishing the homestudy = positive pregnancy test...
getting your referral = finding out the sex of your baby...

But it could not be more inaccurate.

I've been pregnant.

I've adopted.
(Almost) twice.

I know what it's like to go past your due date.
I know what it's like to be big and uncomfortable and
unable to sleep and have false labor and worry about taking an advil...

But here's the major difference:

During my pregnancies,
I never wondered where my baby was.
I never wondered if he/she was being fed.
I never wondered if he or she could have access to medical care if needed.
I knew they were safe with me.
I knew at the VERY MOST from my first positive pregnancy test
to the latest possible point for my child to be in my arms
was a maximum of 38 weeks (from test, not conception).

If you were pregnant and suddenly found out you had 5 more months 
when you thought you had 2 months to go...
it would be quite a shock.
In adoption... it's a given.

Timelines change.
Rugs get pulled out from under your feet.
Emails come that tell you to be patient.
Waiting is part of this process.
Sudden whiplash-inducing changes are part of the process.

Dare to complain about the wait...
get pounced upon by other moms in the process
or who have their kids home
who tell you all about Sovereign timing
and patience.

So, NO.
Adoption is NOT like pregnancy.

Adoption is like...
being in a taxi in a foreign country with no way to communicate with the driver and only
a vague sketch of the place you are trying to go.

Adoption is like...
trying to go up the down escalator
but no one will move so you can get by.

Adoption is like...
being in love with children
on the other side of the world
and not being able to bring them home
until some government employee at a desk
decides to approve your paperwork.

It's expensive and hard and
frustrating and infuriating and depressing...

but we signed up for this because
these kids - 
well, they are worth it all.

Every moment I spend praying,
every email I send begging for better news,
every government fee, 
airline ticket, legal charges,
every time I start to cry
thinking of how much I miss them...
it's still worth it all.
They are worth it.

But, no...
it's nothing like pregnancy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Light and Breezy...DIY laundry soap.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled 
posts that make people cry
to bring you
Chrissy's Version of Homemade Laundry Soap!

So. There are like a million websites and blogs out there with 
variations on this same stuff. Humor me. I'm proud of myself on this.

I bought some stuff:

I spent $16. I had some of it already - like the baking soda and essential oil.

Then... I did this:
Smells nice...

Next I thought I'd go the traditional route and stick it in the food processor.
That. Did. NOT. Work.
It made a huge mess, made a loud noise, and did not reduce the soap to small crumbs.

So... I did this:
Love my Vitamix. You  need one. Yes you do.
It's my all-time favorite appliance.
THIS worked.

*Tip - adding some of the baking soda to the soap helped keep it from turning into a mushy ball and kept it all crumbly like I had hoped for!


So then  I started adding it all together.

Soapy goodness...

Mix, mix, mix, stir, stir, stir...

Then I added some of this...
about 1/5 of the bottle.
It's orange. It could be any scent, but I figured orange was safe for the whole family.

Then I mixed it all with a wisk, then my hands, then a spoon... just to be sure.

When I was happy with the blendedness of the whole thing...
I put it into cute jars!
Aren't they adorable?!!?

Then I took them to my new laundry area...
(Where I labeled them all cute and stuff.)

Ooohhh.... aahhhhh.... pretty!!

Another view....

Two extra bottles on the left - one is plain Borax (toilets and stuff),
the other is some extra laundry detergent.

Okay... so THEN...
I ran a load of clothes with it.
I used cold water, just to be sure it dissolved well.
I put it inside the drum of the front-loading washer -
 not sure how it would work in the dispenser -
I'll try that next time.

I like it!! Everything is clean, I even washed the nasty kitchen towels and they came out smelling fresh and looking clean!

and I only used like 1/4 cup of detergent for the whole load!
At that rate I estimate that this will last me about 4 months
even with the amount of laundry I do in this house!!
4 months in a house of 9 people, for $16!

1 box Borax
1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 box Color Safe Bleach additive
1 largeish tub of store-brand oxycleaner
2 bars Fels-Naptha
2 boxes baking soda
Essential Oil (optional)

Saturday, January 21, 2012



I miss my kids.
I don't understand why it takes so many months to get from court to embassy to home.
I don't understand why paperwork can't get done more quickly,
why the lists of paperwork can't just be standardized so everyone knows what's required
to get our kids home.
I miss their hugs,
I miss their laughter.
I miss the horrible faces the boys made when I gave them Peanut M&M's
and the girls begging for more gum ("Mommy! Masteca! Masteca!").
I loved hearing them talk to each other with their adorable accents,
and laugh at me when I would copy their words.
I miss a sweet boy who would boot any nearby child from their chair
just so he could offer it to me and demand that I sit down.
I love how they fed me injera and held my hands.

And it just takes longer every day it seems. It takes time.
Time that is stolen from us as a family.
Time that is stolen from them as they sit in an orphanage.
It's all about the time lost...
time spent separated.

My grandfather went to heaven on Sunday.
I'm blessed to have had time in my life with all four grandparents
and even time with great-grandparents.
I know lots of people don't ever get that time.
Lots of you probably don't remember your grandparents.
I know I'm blessed to have been gifted this many years with them.
He was a writer.
He was a painter.
He was funny,
and kind,
and loving.
He taught me to type on his typewriter -
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
He loved me.
I was the first grandchild.
On both sides.
I was special.

At the funeral today, my uncle was talking about my grandfather's deafness and how he never allowed it to be a handicap. He read lips exclusively and he was excellent at carrying on conversations in this way.
My uncle said that when my grandpa closed his eyes and fell asleep for the last time - it was the first time he truly felt like he couldn't talk to his dad.
There it is again.
And oh, it hurts.

This has me thinking about our separation from God.
I think about how in each of these circumstances...
my kids on the other side of the world,
so many loved ones in Heaven
and how many of us would do ANYTHING
to bridge that separation.
There's this great, desperate NEED
to close the gap between us.
That NEED to be together again.

But we have Jesus.

He bridges that gap - allows us to be with God someday.
He gives me the hope that HE planted these children in our hearts,
and HE will bring them home to our family.
He lived in the hearts of my grandparents and assures me
that since I put my hope and trust in Him... I will see them again.
He wraps me in his arms when I am sad,
strengthens me when I am weary,
and loves me when I don't deserve it.

He eliminates ALL separation.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Photos and Words.


Words don't really do it justice.

Photos don't convey the precise emotion.

A child on the street wearing rags, tugging on your shirt and asking for food... 
how do you write about that and do it justice? What photo could put your heart into that moment?

A man, dying of AIDS, desperate for someone to take his twin 8-year-old daughters so that he can die knowing they are going to be okay. There aren't photos for that. There aren't words to describe the injustice of finding out, sorry - in this area, nothing can be done for children with one living parent - no matter how broad of a definition you use for "living". 

My 33 pound 8-year-old son who is still in the "critical" range for his weight....
his big brown eyes looking at me and asking to go to America. Tomorrow.
Unexplained scars,
unexplained fears,
unexplained behaviors.
I can't write about it and allow you to "be there" like I was.
There just aren't the right words.

Three "big" boys who act like parents 
to two little girls who have their own guarded hearts and fears.
And oh, I love them.
I love their scars,
their big brown eyes,
their quirks,
their tests of my allegiance,
their smiles,
and their temper tantrums too.

I can't write about fears I had
that were relieved. Fears and "what-if's" that turned to dust.
I can't show you a photo of my heart when I thought we didn't pass court, then we did!
There aren't pictures  of the praises in my heart for a great big God who loves me and loves my kids WAY more than I can ever know.

There aren't words to describe leaving Ethiopia without my children.
Leaving a malnourished little boy who desperately wanted to come home with me...
saying goodbye- for now, 
peeling a 3-year-old little girl's tiny arms from around my neck, 
sobbing in the back seat of the van and announcing "It just isn't FAIR."
You could never truly understand those moments,
the pain and the helplessness, unless you've done it.

There aren't pictures that convey the sadness of sitting in the terminal in the airport 
surrounded by happy people,
laughing and smiling and looking forward to getting on a plane,
and wanting to slap their silly, goofy smiles
 right off their faces
because each one feels like a punch in the stomach you didn't see coming. 

I wish I could describe the happiness of being home again,
seeing 8 faces who you've missed incredibly,
being glad to sleep in your bed and drink water from the tap,
 but feeling like only part of your body came home with you. 

Half of my heart stayed in Ethiopia and that passes,
while it brings us closer to having them home,
 it also causes a greater line between the dots on the timeline of meeting them and seeing them again. 
The space between the dots...
 that's the line where the prayers abound and the pain endures.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Laundry by the dozen

When you live in a house that was built for the average American family size, including 2 adults and 2.5 children… there are bound to be some serious renovations necessary in order to transform that house into something do-able for a family of 14!

One of those areas in the house I have always hated the most is 
my laundry “room”.
It’s a closet. With bi-fold doors. 
Right next to the bedrooms on the upper level of the house. 
While I first thought that having the laundry upstairs would be awesome since that’s where the clothes live, I have since decided that I need more space for the clothes that the 9 of us (soon to be 14) accumulate in a day or two. 
And the folding situation… it’s horrible.

My typical laundry routine goes something like this:
1. Grumble about pile of clothes.
2. Announce implementation of naked-day if people don’t stop putting doll clothes and folded clothes they just didn’t want to put away back into the dirty clothes pile.
3. Decide empty threats don’t work, but throwing clothes into the goodwill bag does.
4. Cram as much stuff into the front-loading washer as possible, add soap and softener, press start and plan to outsource the moving to the dryer to a child in an hour.
5. Grumble because said child didn’t move the clothes to the dryer, or they set it on “touch up” instead of “high” and everything is still damp.
6. Move dry clothes into baskets for “curing” until folding can take place.
7. Threaten to kill dog when she knocks over clean basket of clothing to make her nightly “nest” to sleep in.
8. Repeat.
Clearly – not working out for me.
Insert, hubby to the rescue!!
He borrowed some tools, used some Christmas gift cards to Home Depot, and solved my horrible laundry problem!! Here are the pictures!
Before… but not really. I removed the boxes of stuff from the shelves, all of the piles off of the washer and dryer and the doors came off months ago… THEN I decided to take a photo for this little before and after story!
Then… I painted the walls inside the closet with the leftover kitchen paint, and hubby started making boxes! Once the cubbies were up, I said… “gosh, it sure would be nice to have a counter top type thing for folding clothes…” and VOILA!
Folding table!
He added some trim, we put a few coats of white paint on everything… and POOF!
Isn’t it BEAUTIFUL!!?

Thank you, honey!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A dream realized

An excerpt from Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech - 

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today."

Dr. King... you'd be welcome at my dinner table any day.

I think you'd like it here. 

Thank you for fighting for the rights of children like mine.
Thank you for opening the eyes of the self-righteous, for blurring the lines between shades of skin, and for making a way for families like mine to be accepted and loved even in this broken, fallen world.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ewedeshalo, Ethiopia!

I'm waiting for the final leg of my trip to take me home.
It's been a long week,
but in a lot of ways - not long enough!
Here's a recap:

Friday, Jan 6th - landed in Ethiopia! The smell when I walked off of the plane and down the ramp made me smile! I'm "home"! The driver was there, Binyiam - love him... such a great guy! As we were walking to the car, he called our agency rep (in-country boss) to let him know I was there and he asked to speak with me. He says there's a problem with my paperwork, and that we may not pass court on Wednesday, but not to worry... he has the letter, the judge may just not see it in the stack of papers! Uhm... okay. I had not slept in over 32 hours... so I don't quite remember anything else he said, or what I said in return! I got to the guest house, got checked in, met Missy, Jamie and Brent... and unpacked a few things before collapsing into a mild coma-like sleep!

Saturday, Jan. 7th - Woke up when Missy came to my room to check if I was awake! I forgot any sort of time-telling device, so I never quite knew if it was time to wake up or time to try to get a few more moments of sleep, so I relied mostly on other families schedules to let me know it was wake-up time! Super fast shower, threw on clothes, ran to eat breakfast then Binyiam arrived and we drove to the care center to meet the kids!!  There were 4 families total there on that day, so they took my camera and little video camera and captured the moments when I met them for the first time! It was sweet... and I don't know how else to describe it! I knew them when I saw them... I didn't want to smother them with kisses right away... but I wanted to smoosh their little faces and kiss their sweet cheeks.. and mostly, I did just that! That day also happened to be Genna - Ethiopian Christmas! They had a whole "thing" prepared at the care center so we stayed there for the coffee ceremony and a big lunch which included every  part of the goat the families had purchased for the care center the day before!! Yes, they bought a goat, tied it (alive) to the roof of the van, and delivered it to them for their celebration!! It was tasty. I drank lots of coffee.

Sunday, Jan. 8th-Tuesday, Jan. 10th - Same morning routine just about every day. One family left on Monday, one other on Tuesday, but Monday night another family arrived! Each day we did pretty much the same routine, or at least *I* did. Breakfast, any errands, shopping one day, then went to the care center for a little bit and brought the kids back to the hotel to play in a smaller-scale environment.  5 kids, 1 adult, 1 driver and no seat belts or 5-point-harness carseats... I may have gone a little bit gray during those car trips!!  We had so much fun at the hotel - soccer, coloring books, playdoh, snacks... it was nice to get to see them and spend time away from the other children who compete for attention. I got to see their real personalities (or as much as they will show me at this point in our relationships) and spend more one-on-one time with them than I think I would have at the care center.

Wednesday, Jan. 11- Court date! Had a hard time getting to sleep with the nervousness of the pending court date! Woke up, coffee, got dressed, ate breakfast, and waited for the driver. He arrived and the 4 families who had court the same day all piled into the van to go. Arrived at court, got the security pat-down, entered the building and found the room where we would wait. Signs on the walls in the institutional-feel room warned us all to "Silencia!" because the classroom-like waiting area was one doorway away from the Judge's office! There were many families in there. Some were from Germany, others France, one sounded British, and there were other Americans. Missy, Nicole and I prayed together as Mommies desperately in love with our children, and waited some more. Soon, appointments began. The secretary would call the name of an orphanage, and their representative would move to the door signaling them that it was their turn. Missy's kids were from a different area than the other 3 families, so she went first from our group. She walked in, I held my breath, and moments later - she walked out and they motioned to us to come! I looked at Missy and I couldn't decide if she was holding back happy tears or sad tears, so I asked her and she said "we passed!" I gave her a hug and quickly walked inside the judge's office. The "court room" is her office. There are two desks - one for the (probably) court clerk, the other for the judge. There are about 8 chairs for families to sit in, and their two desks, and the room is full. The agency rep told us to sit, and we nervously found a seat. The judge called the names of our children to verify our appointments. We answered a few questions together as a group - do we know this is final, do we approve of our children, do we agree to help them maintain their culture, etc... then she began with the other families specifically. It took just moments, and they were approved! Then she started with our case. She started off using different words, so my heart fell into my stomach. She said our paperwork was missing a document and that she would reschedule our court date for next week, but that my part was finished and correct. We would not pass court today. She specifically asked me about our other children at home, about if they were adopted or not, and if I had a job (ha ha ha..). After she did the math on how many kids we'd have she said "Whew! God bless..." (why Thank You! God has indeed blessed us!).  Then we were dismissed. Suddenly it hit me that I'd be flying home without passing court and I felt the tears coming. I quickly walked sprinted out of the room and past the waiting families, Ethiopian nationals and police down the hall to a stairway where I felt the tears starting to fall. I couldn't breathe and my heart was racing. Why was I flipping out?? I was told to expect this... it will be okay... and then Missy came over and gave me a hug. I really lost it then. The agency representative walked over, looked at me and said "It's okay - wait here." (like I was leaving??) and he went into an office and talked to a woman at a desk. He returned moments later with a piece of paper and said "please come, we will go back!" Uhm... pretty sure you can't just 'go back' to court! But we did! He waited for the door to open and stuck his arm in with the piece of paper - it was our "missing" document. He explained to the secretary something in Amharic, and looked at me and said, "it's okay - don't cry." I think my crying made him SUPER uncomfortable. It's okay though, I was making all the other families in the room uncomfortable. ha ha! Suddenly, the secretary opened the door and said "Yes, it is Approved!" My mouth fell open and I think I may have squealed! I couldn't believe it!! You know my court story would look and sound different from everyone else's... but sheesh!! I had no idea THAT could happen!! I was so relieved and shocked and just ... EEEK!! We PASSED! I walked out of the room -now crying happy tears and practically ran back over to our group and threw my arms up and said "Approved!!!" Hugs all around, and we were done! Just amazing. God literally goes before AND after our family in this. It's just miracle after miracle!! We are so blessed!
After court, we stopped by the guest house to let families change clothes and I send my hubby a facebook message about court since it was like 2am in the USA! Got back in the car and went to the care center to see our newly legalized family members! We hung out for a little while, but had some doctor stuff to take care of , then went to the guest house with the bigger kids for a bit to play before our awful goodbyes. 
Later that afternoon, when I took the kids back to the care center, I asked the nanny to translate to them that Daddy AND Mommy would be back as soon as we could, and for whatever reason, our oldest child kept telling me "March! Mommy, Daddy, Ethiopia... aeroplane America... MARCH!"  Please, Lord - don't allow that sweet boy to be disappointed! 
Awful to have to say goodbye for now, tears in the van, back to the guest house to get packed up.

The trip was amazing. 
I do love Ethiopia...the people especially. 

I miss my kids at home, and I miss my kids who are waiting there for us to return.
It's an amazing thing to have your heart broken in half and shared across two continents.
A Mother's heart doesn't divide to share with more children, it multiplies to share with them all.

Here's what you're waiting for...
some pictures!!

Arriving at the Care Center.

I'm here!!

Me and the youngest of our new 5! This was our first "hello!"

Both girls!

Group photo!

Having lunch together at the guest house!

Our last day together, but the day they became legally OURS!

Oh, my heart...
I love these kids! They are just so great!
the year I became a mommy to 12!

only God could write this story!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hi from Germany!

Hi everyone!
Thanks for checking in,
I made it to Germany...
with no sleep...
so I'm a little...
well, crazy.

I bought coffee, again...
so I'm sleep deprived, but very hyper..
which is always fun.

I will be taking off from here around 6am CST, 
so around the time you wake up/woke up today...
and until around 3pm CST...
I will be in the air.


My legs hurt from sitting.

However, this morning
(while I wasn't sleeping)
I got to see the sunrise over the North Sea and the shore of England!
(Great Britain?)
It was gorgeous.
You could see a few lights still on,
the line of waves crashing on the beaches...
and the pink highlights from the sun.
Just gorgeous!

I hope to be able to check in and update you about my trip...
but if not, I will hopefully be able to post photos when I return!!


Monday, January 2, 2012

The day we were tarred and feathered with blessings!

I've been wanting to write about this day 
for almost a week...
but with the chaos of trying to pack for my
court trip (leaving THIS THURSDAY)
and, of course, also trying to organize and de-clutter the house
because, you know...
there's no better time to totally tear apart all of your closets
and re-arrange your house than 48 hours before you 
leave the country. Right?

you probably read my last post 
where I linked to all the stories
leading up to right now
in this current adoption process.
I had lots of new visitors to my little blog
because they found their way here
from a fundraiser website we had set up!

let me tell you about THAT!

I think it was Monday of last week
when a friend of mine
(who goes by Captain Murdock online)
approached me about testing out
her hubby's new website!
They had been trying to figure out some way to 
help adoptive families, charities, and other non-profit type people
fundraise for their project or cause
by using the power of social media to draw awareness.

SURE! We'd do a test run!
I mean, we needed money...
adoption costs money...
lots of money...
and we have this pick-up trip coming in a few months
where we will need 2 round trip and FIVE one-way tickets home!
The total of those fees makes us wonder if it may be more cost-effective to charter a direct flight home...
but hey, it's a goal!

So I went to their website, 
set it all up,
hit the "publish" button...
and sent a quick note saying "it's up! Looks good!".

We got a donation!
Then another one!
Then another!
And suddenly, we were up to $100 in our fund!
Then $200, then $300...
and by bedtime, we had hit $1000!!!
We were AMAZED! 
It was so much fun to read comments by the people donating.
Some were anonymous,
some were funny,
some were warm-fuzzies and brought tears to my eyes.
All of them were so, incredibly appreciated and graciously celebrated over!

I barely slept!
I woke up and we had received $500 in donations overnight!
By the time my husband left for work we were up to $2000 and still climbing!
My email box was filling up with donation notifications,
people were sharing our link and blog and I was shocked and
brought to tears multiple times that morning.

Then, suddenly...there were whispers that we might
meet our ENTIRE GOAL by the end of the day.

I was almost afraid to mention that out loud!
How could that be??
We had this huge number...
but people were just dumping blessings on us
left and right!!
When we hit the half-way mark by lunch...
I thought I was going to pass out.

Multiple times throughout the day, I just stopped and prayed and just thanked 
the Lord for bringing these donations to our family,
for providing our needs, for not waiting till the last possible moment to bring us the money we needed,
and for the wonderful people who believe in us and were sending us such kind words to treasure forever!

And our goal??
Well, that giant, looming mountain we were looking at...
crumbled into dust by 9pm!!
We suddenly had every penny we estimated for the trip,
and people were still donating!
Even today, we are still receiving gifts from people
who feel like our trip might require a little more than we estimated!

We are so incredibly thankful to each and every person who
blessed us with $7 or hundreds!!
The Lord took your money and multiplied it
and did a "loaves and fishes" kind of miracle
right before our eyes!!

So, to everyone who donated...
Thank you, from the depths of our hearts.
We can never adequately express how touched we are by your generosity!

To everyone who shared the link on your facebook, twitter, blog or through email...
you were a major reason why we met our goal so quickly
so thank you SO much for using your connections to help bless our family!!

To everyone who remembers our family in your prayers,
we are grateful.

Please pray for my trip...
I leave Thursday.
I am incredibly excited to meet our kiddos,
and nervous to fly alone,
and sad to leave my family here for a week.
It's such a confusing swirl of emotions!

I'm boldly asking for you to pray specifically
that we would pass court while I am there. 
I know that it's rare now,
with the way the process has changed,
but I would sure love that.
(And then I could show you pictures!!)

Thank you all again!!
And if you want to see the fundraiser or read the comments..
click this link: