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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Just What I Needed Today

Last night was a bad night for me. I couldn't sleep thinking about my son waiting for me on the other side of the world.

I was stressing about the court date - "What if we don't get through? How much longer will we have to wait? Will we make it through before the court closure?"

I was stressing about not having tentative travel dates - "Is there something wrong? Do they know something they are not telling me?"

I was stressing about packing - "Do I have enough clothes? Bottles? Etc..." (I'm a first time mom, so I am pretty insecure about this stuff.)

So I woke up this morning still feeling the weight of all of this on my shoulders. Even communicating with the travel coordinator (who still didn't have many answers) made me feel no different.

I have tried to keep myself busy at work, which isn't hard.

It's been raining, hailing, windy and sunny here...kind of reflects my feelings at any given moment.

About an hour ago, I noticed an email came in. It was a reply from Rachel Ward. I had asked some questions about gifts for the Transition Home and donations. I read the email, where she answered one of my questions. She also mentioned that she was having technical difficulties and may not be able to share photos of our son this Friday (we get updates and photos every other Friday).

So another thing to add onto my "bummed" state.

Then there was another email that came in...

A family who traveled in March took pictures of our little Nathaniel and emailed them to Rachel, who then sent them to me today!!! What a gift!!! What a way to give me some perspective on my day. This isn't about "woe is me," this is about Nathaniel. It's about God chosing this little boy to be in my home. It is always so encouraging to see his precious little face. I stand amazed that God has chosen little ole' us to be this miracle's parents.

Hopefully I will be able to share these with you on Monday!

Sitting here, re-reading my current post, I am reminded of something my husband says often. "God has big shoulders. He can handle your anger, your fear, your anxiousness, etc."

Thank you, Lord that you love me even though I am far from perfect. Thank you for your forgiveness, your peace, hope and grace. Again, I reliquish control to You. I give you Nathaniel. Keep him safe in your arms. Thank you for blessing us with this little boy. We will never deserve such a gift. We dedicate him to You.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Matsiko Children's Choir!

Last week we heard about a Children's Choir from Uganda traveling to our little town. We were so excited to go hear them sing and support them. Here are some pictures I took tonight!

God truly used these little kids to encourage me tonight. I am so incredibly thankful that we were so blessed to attend this concert!





























1 Week Until Court!

One week from today, we are praying that we hear the news of a successful courtdate! Will you pray with us, please?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Holly's Owie got worse...

Ok, so back on Tuesday, I posted about my shots that I got for travel? I had to update my 10 year Tetnus booster (last one was in 1998 when I went on a mission trip to Romania) that includes a vaccine for Pertussis. I thought everything was fine, and it didn't even hurt much....until Wednesday.

I woke up in pretty severe pain in my right arm (I am left handed so they chose my right arm). As the day progressed it got worse and by the evening I was running a temp of over 101 degrees. I was a little nervous about it, but by Thursday afternoon the temperature went away, but the injection sight was red and swelling quite a bit. It just kept getting bigger and bigger...

Paul took me to urgent care yesterday (Friday) to have them check it out. The doctor said it looks like I am having an allergic reaction to an element in the vaccine. So now I am taking low dose Pretnezone for 5 days and Benedryl. I can already tell a difference.

...I still think Nathaniel is MORE than worth it!

Families in Ethiopia this week!

This week there are 4 families traveling to pick up their children from Ethiopia. 2 of these families will be updating their blogs (hopefully) as the travel:
The Coens - going to pick up little Silas.
and
The Harbaughs - going to pick up Salomae Fetya (4 yrs) and baby Josiah Yohannes.

It is so exciting to see and hear the stories as they are traveling, realizing that that will be us soon!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Blogging fun :-)

Paul is getting really excited about bringing Nathaniel home...
...Chewy's not to sure about all this.

Clothes, clothes and more clothes...and other necessities!

Here are the outfits I got Sunday!

...and more clothes!

Thank you, Mary! This night outfit is so soft and cuddly, and with a matching blanket!

Thank you, Megan!

I found this at a Kid Exchange store! I got such a kick out of it, I had to get it. Can you imagine this color next to his beautiful brown skin?! Amazing.

All this stuff is a combination of the special laundry soap and fabric softner for delicate baby skin (for washing his clothes before we leave), the baby Tylenol (off brand) and baby Benedryl (as encouraged by our Doctor), some blankets and burb rags, other baby necessities, and the passport photos mentioned in the travel packet.

There are so many other clothes we have received by the loving people in our lives! Thank you, Grosse family and Bozemans!

Hit the Jackpot at Albertsons?!

Yes, you read it correctly. I walked into Albertsons today to pick up couple groceries, and right around the check out area was a HUGE display of kids/baby books that we on clearance for 75% off. I found tons of great books! It is so exciting!

Visit with the Pediatrician

Today, Paul & I spent much of the day with the Doctor...no really, I am serious.

I think we were there for over 2 hours asking questions and setting up a "game plan" for when we bring our son home. He set our minds at ease about some stuff (I had 2 pages of questions), and helped us think about things we hadn't yet. It is so goot to know that Nathaniel will be well taken care of!

Holly's Got An Owie...

...But Nathaniel is SO worth it!

Monday, April 21, 2008

2 Weeks to Court Date!

Just wanted to share. :-)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Travel Packet Received and other *stuff*

Yesterday we received our official travel packet for our trip to Ethiopia! Can this be real?! I still feel like I am in a dream!

I think I may have read all the info about 1000 times and have already faxed our travel coordinator the necessary stuff so she will have it first thing tomorrow. We still do not have tentative travel dates, but we do know travel will likely be 2 -3 weeks after our court date on May 5th!
Ok, I must confess...I went to JC Penney and bought several summer outfits, as they were 55% off AND I had a 20% coupon. I will post pictures later. I keep picturing the clothes on him and how amazing he will look with his chocolate colored skin in the colors I chose. My only concern is size...even with an approx weight doesn't really let me know for sure what size he will be (Rachel at the Transition Home said the weight isn't 100% accurate, because the scale is off and they have to prop the babies up on it to weigh them). I am just so glad that all the updates have stated that he is healthy!
This Tuesday we are meeting with our Pediatrician to go over some stuff and ask a million questions. I am looking forward to this meeting...another thing that is making this seem so real! Paul & I are going to sit down tomorrow evening and list out our questions so we don't forget anything.
I find myself excited and nervous all at the same time. My stomach has been on edge all weekend, especially when I think about the court date. I keep reminding myself of Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
Thank you, Lord, that I can place my trust in You.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Transition Home Updates!

Every other Friday we get updates from the Transition Home about our little Nathaniel!

We got another BEAUTIFUL picture of him (which I will show after our May 5th court date) and a short little paragraph:
"*Nathaniel is getting cuter and cuter all the time! (Not sure if that is even possible!) He is very alert, engaging, and makes great eye contact. He can locate sounds by turning his head in that particular direction. He continues to be very healthy and happy!"

*Name changed by me because of confidentiality reasons.

In other news, the AWAA program director left for Ethiopia today, and will be traveling in Ethiopia and Rwanda until mid-May. They are hoping to establish and strengthen relationships so they continue serving orphans in Africa. They will also be working with the in country staff to find ways to better the program as it grows larger.

I get excited thinking about the fact that Duni will get to meet our little Nathaniel! I so wish I was there right now getting to kiss his chubby little cheeks!

Happy weekend!
Love,
Holly

Monday, April 14, 2008

3 Weeks Ago We Saw His Face...In 3 Weeks YOU Will See His Face!!!!!

I just got the email about 20 minutes ago....
WE HAVE A COURT DATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our court is scheduled for Monday morning, May 5th (which is our Sunday evening, May 4th). When I wake up in the morning on the 5th, we should know the ruling.

PRAISE THE LORD!!!!!
Love,
Holly

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Steps to the Court Date

So, tomorrow will be 3 weeks since we saw our son for the first time. Lots of people have been asking, "What now?" or "How long until you go to Ethiopia?"

Here are the steps that have to be completed prior to us recieving our court date:

  • Step One - Upon acceptance of the referral, a Contract of Adoption is signed between the child's legal guardian (the Orphanage) and the adoptive parent(s), or the agency representative (Girmachew). If the legal guardian is also the agency that is processing the adoption, another licensed orphanage can sign on behalf of the child. This contract is the basis for the issuance of the adoption decree, which shows that the guardian or the orphanage has relinquished their parental or guardian right in regard to the adopted child. The contract must be taken to the Inland Revenue Administration office to be stamped. There is a nominal fee.
  • Step Two - The parents’ dossier is returned to MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) . MOWA will then affix a summary sheet, on which will be noted items such as court decisions, background data on the adopted child or children, and the names of Adoption Committee members who will complete the form at a later date (see below). At this point, for private adoptions only, MOWA usually asks the U.S. Embassy to provide a letter of support for the adoptive parents.
  • Step Three - MOWA submits the parents’ dossier to the Adoption Committee for review and approval to adopt. The Adoption Committee meets periodically, sometimes as often as every week, to review cases. The Committee either approves or rejects the prospective adoptive parent(s), based on Ethiopian guidelines for international adoptions. Given the volume of work before the Committee, it can take weeks before the Committee reviews a dossier. Further investigation into the parents' qualifications is done if deemed necessary, and a recommendation is made. Only if all the members of the committee agree, and sign the recommendation, is the request approved.
  • Step Four - Once the Committee has approved the parents’ dossier, MOWA opens a file at the Federal First Instance Court to apply for an appointment date for the adoption hearing. The court date could be one to two months from the date of filing.
  • Step Five - CYAO opens a file at the Federal First Instance Court to apply for an appointment date for the adoption hearing. The court date could be one to two months from the date of filing. The Court generally is closed between three and twelve weeks between July and October. The dates change every year.
  • Step Six - A notice seeking any other claimants to the child is published in the local press stating the child's name and the name of the adopting parents. Anyone opposed to the adoption is requested to appear at MOWA by a certain date and time.
  • Step Seven - When the appointed court date arrives, the prospective parents or their agency's local representative will be asked to appear in court. Final decisions can be handed down quickly, but delays of weeks are not uncommon. Adoptive parents must obtain at least two originals of the court decree. One will be retained by MOWA and one must be submitted to the U.S. Embassy for the visa application. The original submitted to the Embassy will be returned to the parents.
  • Step Eight - After the adoption is complete, MOWA prepares a request to the city of Addis Ababa for the issuance of a new birth certificate, and a request to the Office of Security, Immigration and Refugee Affairs for an Ethiopian passport for the child in its new name. The U.S. Embassy needs both the new birth certificate and the passport to complete the child's U.S. immigrant visa application process.
  • Step Nine - The court decree must be translated into English. The original and the translation are submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) for authentication. The authentication stamp, seals and signature are placed on the back of the translation. If the adoption contract was made in Amharic, it too must be translated into English and the original translation authenticated by MOFA.

According to our program director the entire process will take 6-8 weeks. This of course is ideal and not a guarantee. We are praying that we will hear when our court date is any day! The last group received notice of their court date about 3 weeks prior to it. At this rate, we may be traveling to pick up our son right around my 30 birthday in the beginning of June!

We are doing our best to use this time wisely to prepare our hearts and home for this little boy! I am reading "What To Expect The First Year", and I am learning a lot!

This week a wonderful family in our church bought us several ADORABLE baby outfits! We are so blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives!

Happy Sunday! Love you all!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Nathaniel's "Stuff"

PICTURES, PICTURES, PICTURES!!!
Nathaniel's crib (the blue elephant on the wall behind the crib was made for Paul when he was a baby.)

Nathaniel's changing table & giraffe rocker

Nathaniel's toy box - this toy box was built by Paul's dad for him when he was a kid. I repainted it for Nathaniel.

Nathaniel's high chair

Nathaniel's stroller

Nathaniel's Pack-N-Play/Play Pen/Travel crib & changing table

Clothes, clothes and more clothes! It is so much fun to shop for clothes!

2 Weeks!

It was 2 weeks ago today that we got our referral! This has been an amazing 2 weeks, but the best is yet to come...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Updates from the Transition Home do a Mama's heart good!

I found out Thursday morning that the bi-weekly updates from the Transition home were gonna happen today!!!!! Needless to say, the first thing I did when I woke up was check my email. What did I find? 3 MORE PICTURES!!!!

OK, so this little boy has stolen my heart. I melted when I saw his picture, and I will never be the same!

Our little was described as "...a delight! He is easy to make smile, and is a happy and content baby. His eating, sleeping, and bowel movements are all normal. He has beautiful brown skin and loves to be held!"

It was extremely encouraging to hear that he was examined by an American doctor on 3/15/08. Here is what the doctor said: " is completely healthy and has a normal development. The only issue is that he has a bigger than usual soft spot. The transition home nurse took him for an ultrasound, which showed no abnormalities. This is of no concern and it can take up to 15 months for a baby’s soft spot to close up."

We have been flying today with the pictures and good news!

In other news, I have finished painting and organizing the baby's room (pictures to come). My dad has been here since yesterday, (drove down from Washington) and he took us shopping for "supplies" for his grandson! It was so much fun! We now have a high chair, a stroller and a playpen, plus diapers and 3 new outfits! It was so much fun to put together (pictures to come).

Happy weekend to y'all!