Sunday, March 30, 2008

We Made It!


That date right there - the big one in yellow - that's been the main thing flashing in our heads for the last 3 months. After receiving our referral, our daughter had to wait out 90 days before the orphanage could be granted custody of her and begin the process of working towards granting us custody of her.

March 30, 2008 was the magic number. And we made it there today.

There is a lot more to accomplish in this process but today we felt like we made it to a major milestone.

Thank you so much to everybody who has prayed for us, for our son and daughter, for Ethiopia and for all of the people and steps involved in this process. We couldn't have made it here to March 30 without you.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

12 Down - How Many More To Go?


It wasn't until we finally completed all of the paperwork for our China adoption and had gotten an official log in date that the real hard work began - the wait.

Some friends gave us some wonderful advice that we will forever be grateful for - they said we needed to pray about this wait and see what God wanted us to do with it. Well - we did just that. And God gave us an amazing coping mechanism - a concurrent adoption. One filled with some emotional ups and downs but one that we wouldn't trade for anything.

On March 20, 2008 we reached the one year mark of us being logged in to China. Wow. One year already. And we really have no idea how much longer we'll have to wait before we head to China to bring home another part of our family - but ya know what? We seem to be okay with the wait.

Don't get me wrong - there are times of frustration at the wait - times we sit and think about what it will be like to head to China with our daughter from Ethiopia to bring home her new brother or sister. And those times are hard. But honestly - we needed this waiting period more than we could have ever thought. We have learned to give control over to God. To sit back and watch Him work and allow Him to work in us. And yes - we have even been able to enjoy this journey - with its document renewals, constant wondering, online rumors and all.

Without this wait there wouldn't have been the amazing amount of growth that we have both experienced. We wouldn't have had the time to get to know the great people that we have met. There would have been no Brighton Asher in our lives and there wouldn't be an upcoming trip to Ethiopia to bring home our little girl.

Nope - as hard as it is - we are incredibly grateful for this wait in China.

Thank you God - for everything you've given to us throughout this journey.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Can you believe it?

I know, I know...Tymm always does the writing here but today it is me! Please know, that although Tymm does most of the posting here, he has a way of reading my heart when he writes. I read his beautiful words and I think to myself, how did he know EXACTLY how I was feeling?

So here is the latest with me...we are 13 days from the end of our little one's 90 day required stay in the orphanage, however, she will remain there until we go get her. What does this mean? This means that on March 30th, we wait for the orphanage to receive her clearance papers stating that she is now in their custody. This could take up to 2 weeks . After that, our in country agency representative can go apply for our court date. Court dates don't seem to happen for about 30 days after filing for one. Typical travel, for our agency, is 4 weeks after getting through court.

I am desperately trying NOT to control things. Tymm is much more laid back about this than me. I am just ready to go get my girl! I mean, I have some rockin' outfits ready for her to wear!! Really, though, I cannot control myself from looking over the calendar, counting the days and dreaming of the moment I hold her for the first time.

As many of you know, Tymm and I have dreamed of a family for years. Our arms have been empty for awhile now, and felt even more empty when we lost Brighton but don't take that to mean that our hearts have been empty. God has been so good to us over the past several years, in good times and bad. He has continued to pave the way for us and pour out His blessings upon us. We could not ask for anything more.

One of the most amazing things I have seen over this time is the growth in Tymm. God has helped him grow into an amazing spiritual leader of our home. His love for the Lord blows me away and his hunger to learn more about Him fills my heart. I cannot wait to see him teach our little ones about the love of Jesus...I know it will be beautiful.

So for now folks...we rest in the hands of God until our baby girl comes home...but hey, no one ever said that I am not allowed to stare at a calendar while resting, right??

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mambo Sawa - Life is Good


Off of a hot tip from some great friends, Laura and I decided to spend Palm Sunday evening at a free concert put on by the Watoto Children's Choir from Uganda.

Oh. My. Gosh.

These are kids who have lost both parents to disease or war and thought they had nothing. They felt forgotten. Desperate. Hopeless. But then Watoto got a hold of them and they are now just busting at the seams with love for Jesus.

I didn't think that our hearts could grow any bigger with love for Africa - I really didn't. I was dead wrong. Man - there couldn't have been a dry eye in that place tonight as we heard the stories of these kids and watched them sing, dance, stomp and just flat out worship God.

Our hearts grew 10x tonight for Africa. What an incredible feeling - these kids from a country so far away that is ripe with war, poverty and AIDS - were able to bring Hope to me - I can't even wrap my head around that. They taught me about the love of Jesus tonight.

Afterwards we got the opportunity to meet the kids - all ranging in age from 8 to 13 years old - and they were incredible. We shook hands, thanked them and Laura got lots of hugs. They said they fund themselves through their merchandise sales - so what better reason for us to buy a CD, a t-shirt, a bracelet and children's book. it seemed like so little after what they had just done for us.

When you get a chance - go check out the whole story behind Watoto at their website - www.watoto.com - and learn more about this incredible mission and ministry.

Buy a shirt. Buy a CD. Better yet - sponsor a child - I bet you'll feel incredible while doing it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Scream Free First Friday


So this past Friday the Chapmans were at it again - putting on another great First Friday for all of us waiting parents and those who have been and are back. First Friday is a community of folks who are adopting from China and get together the first Friday of every month to support one another in the wait. They say it is for folks adopting from China - but they welcome anybody adopting from anywhere. They are just that cool.

This particular one may have been one of the best I have attended - for several reasons. First off, we had some fellow Ethiopia adopters in the house - woo hoo!

Throw your hands in the air! And wave 'em like ya just don't care!
And if ya love Africa like we love Africa somebody say "Oh Yeah!"
Well - okay - maybe not the right environment for that, but still - it was great to see some faces of some people who are heading to Ethiopia - we love that place! They were stoked to check out all the new pictures we had from the orphanage and of our little girl - so that was fun.

Next outstanding thing was that we got to actually meet Micah. After being home for only 6 days his family managed to make the trek to satisfy all of us waiting parents who had been living vicariously through them on their journey. What a great little guy - he seemed to be in good spirits - and man - when he gets teamed up with Sheridan - I can only imagine the ruckus.

But the best part of the night had to be the speaker that the Chapmans had lined up for us. Hal Runkel had been on The Today Show that morning and then flew in to Atlanta to come speak to us. How cool is this guy? He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has written a book called "Scream Free Parenting." But honestly - the dude should be doing stand-up comedy. He was really funny.

His point wasn't missed on us though - I really think it was something we needed to hear. So many people say things like "Oh my gosh - you just wait - everything's gonna change - you'll have no time for anything anymore, etc, etc., etc." Well, Hal made great points regarding a lot of that and it was stuff that really hit home with us and some of the things we are planning to do when our family goes from 2 to 3.

We bought a book from him and we look forward to reading it and applying a lot of it to our daily lives as well as putting it in to practice when our angel gets home.

We wrapped up the night with a late dinner with some first-timers who had come. We had met them previously as they began hearing God's call to adopt and we were really excited they got to come. We got to hear more about their life, their recent decisions and where they are at in the process. God is doing great things in their lives and we hope they continue to embrace the community and support that First Friday offers.

Dan and Susan - once again - thank you for all you do!

Hot Date on a Cold Day


With all the hustle-bustle of the new year and the drama surrounding our increasingly exciting adoption process, Laura and I have not been able to spend a ton of quality time together lately. So it was with much anticipiation that I looked toward the weekend - because I had been able to magically secure the much sought-after 12 o'clock reservation at the highly touted United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office. I mean come on - do I know how to treat the woman in my life or what?

Fingerprints you say? Ha - for those not in the know maybe. Friction Ridge Impressions to the rest of us. Classy sounding, right? You bet. So with snow coming down on a March day in Atlanta we pulled in about 15 minutes early and left all cellphones, cameras and Starbucks in the car. Armed with nothing but ourselves, our IDs and our clean fingertips we headed inside for what would hopefully be a quick little re-print.

Wrong. See the 12 o'clock reservation apparently gets ya the bonus deal - which is 2 hours of silence in uncomfortable chairs staring at drab government-issued gray painted walls. Man - I go all out for a date with my wife. No holding back.

We wrapped up the date by spending about 3 brief minutes with a technician who rolled our fingers around on a biometric machine - and then we all left happy. Don't let Laura fool ya - she enjoyed it. I am already planning a trip back in the next 15 months or so.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I Wish I Was a Farmer


I know - you're like - "What the...??" - but it's true. I do. I mean there are all of the obvious reasons why anyone would wish they were a farmer. You know - fresh veggies, set your own work hours, tons of big cool farm equipment, etc. But the biggest reason for me would have to be this: a good farmer knows the seeds he is planting.

I mean no successful farmer is just going to toss a handful of seeds out into his field and then wait to see what shows up come harvest time. Rather, he is going to be very aware of the seeds he sows allowing him to reap the benefits of his quality seeds come harvest time.

So why can't we do this? Forget we - why can't I do this? I think back over my entire life and - whew - I planted a lot of bad seeds. I mean a lot. How many times do we act without thinking and have no idea who is watching? Who is grabbing a seed and letting it grow? Or how often do we speak with no consideration for the ears around us - the ears that our seeds are dropping right into. I do it a lot.

The closer we get to going to Africa to bring our daughter home the more I think about this kind of stuff. I wanna be a great role model for her - I wanna block all the bad seeds from ever getting near her - but the fact is I won't be able to do that.

In the adoption community - whether you know it or not - you are planting seeds like crazy. You are sowing the seeds for all of your friends and family who before you started this process had no idea what it was all about. And check this out - even ears you thought couldn't care less about adoption are listening. They are hearing. They are taking the seeds and it is growing - it can either be a good harvest or a bad one - but the seeds are there.

Here's my example - and this is so cool. I think it's a great example of how we affect and influence those around us so much more than we ever think we do. I don't see my niece and nephews very much. We live pretty far apart so when we do see each other we aren't sitting around talking about poverty in Africa or the global orphan problem. Instead we are playing flag football, bouncing on a trampoline, playing video games and just having fun.

So you can imagine how surprised I was when I got this voicemail from my oldest nephew shortly after MLK day this year. Check it out below:



Pretty cool to me. I was really amazed by that - I guess in my head it just never registered that he would even think about that stuff at his age. I am pretty sure I never did.

So thanks Will for being a real example to me of how the seeds we sow affect the world around us. I know I can't go back and unplant any bad seeds I may have sowed in the past but I can definitely go forward and be a better farmer.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Community is Dope


Being part of a community is pretty cool. I mean we are all part of a community in one way or another. Whether it's your neighborhood, your school district, your mommy's morning out play dates - whatever it is - we humans like to be part of a unified body of individuals with common interests.

And we take part in these communities for varying reasons it seems. We may go to church on Sunday for an hour to be around others like us - others who love God - and that church community can strengthen our own beliefs. We may go to Yankee Stadium because there is an overwhelming sense of peace in being around so many bright, brilliant, exceptionally intelligent people who realize a spectacular baseball organization when they see one. There is just something about being around people who seem to "get" us that makes us feel comfortable.

In the past week we have been just flat out floored by the selfless acts of our adoption community. Not just one - but two familes were heading 8,000+ miles away to bring home the newest members of their own families - and what did they do for us? They took time out of this amazing, life-changing experience of their own to do such a selfess thing for us. They both hunted down our daughter at her orphanage and took tons of pictures for us. They held her. They hugged her. They loved on her. They told her we were coming to get her soon.

Then they took the time - while most likely exhuasted and overwhelmed with a dizzying array of emotions - to get online and send us these amazing pictures of them with our daughter. We have so many new photos. It made our hour, our day, our week, our month.

I am not sure if I will ever be able to repay them for it - and I don't even know if they understand how huge that act was - or maybe they do. All I know is we were moved and touched and blessed yet again by some of God's awesome people.

Man - you guys are so appreciated. We hope we can return the favor and/or pass it on to others when we travel.

Thank You So Much!