Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hello's and Goodbye's

We have four more weeks left in Greenwood before our big move. It's hard to believe we are closing this chapter in our lives. Residency, new babies in the house, and a place our family has grown to call Home. It's no secret that I had a hard time when we moved to small town USA. I quit a job I adored, I started staying at home with my new baby and my husband was an intern working over night every 4th night for a year. I felt like a single mom trying to navigate a new town and a new normal all while my husband was gone most of the time. It felt really lonely at times. If not for my Gamo coming every on-call night and staying with me, I might not have made it that first year. I had a hard time, at first, finding my niche here in Gwd. But soon God started working on my heart and telling me to "learn to be content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want" (Phil 4:12) God literally told me this through other people, study, and in my daily devotions. I started to take this verse to heart "learn" to be content. Soon I was building really unexpected and special relationships, serving our church and getting involved in one of the most meaningful bible studies I've ever been a part of (Community Bible Study). It was amazing. I met new girls through Bunko, the medical association and at the Y. During this time our family went from 3 to 5 and
our number of friends nearly tripled too! :) Greenwood became home and the charm of small town grew on us. We have truly been blessed here and I can only hope and pray our next phase of life will be filled with half the meaningful relationships and experiences we've had for the past 4 years.

On Sunday our wonderful church family had a "Welcome JP" party and a "Send The Patrick's Off" party all rolled into one. We had cake, ice cream and fellowship in the Church park after Sunday night services and we felt the love all around us. It means so much to us that our church is so supportive and prayful for our family and our move. We will certainly miss the Middle school and High schoolers that we've taught the past 4 years. Joey and I both did our last lessons on Sunday:( I will also never forget the women that have mentored me as a wife and mother at SMSBC. Thank you for growing us and praying for us and letting us be a part of your mission. We love you and will always have special memories from our time there.

We had Cake and Ice cream!

B helping direct where all the gifts went.

The Guest of Honor chowing down on his cake.

SMSBC, you really didn't have to do all this for us!

On Monday night we had Family Fun Night with B's school (also our church). They were honoring our service men and women. B had to wear red, white and blue and Joey wouldn't let me get anything new. I decided to make her a twirly skirt from this tutorial.
I'm always real proud of myself when I make clothes now since I no longer have Gamo to help me with it. But when I'm done I always want to show her because I know she'd be so proud I did it by myself. She looked cute and it was an original too! I'm glad Norman was able to come. He brought fresh picked strawberry's, an African print that he picked up at a garage sale, B some Yoo-Hoo's (always) and all the kids a box of animal crackers. He was also honored, along with all the other service men, in Bethany's program. B had me blow out her hair for the program. She's really not into her curls these days. I take offense. She told me the other day while I was brushing her hair, "Mom, you like tangly hair but I like straight hair." I told her that I happen to get a lot of compliments on my curls. She wasn't convinced. We'll have to work on that.

Twirly Skirt

My Yankee Doodle doing her thang

Liddy and Daddy playing on the see-saw

JP and Lyds playing

B with her best friend at school, Kate. (she also has a big crush on Kate's older brother!)

Norman came to see B. I'm glad he got honored as a Vet in her program.

We are some lucky people. As sad as it is to move, the Lord has really placed such excitement and anticipation about Memphis. The decision was one I freely gave over to God but it took me a while to become "content" with it. I was allowing lots of things to steal the Joy the Lord wanted me to have about Memphis and He's teaching me again. Next post? It's about Memphis! I'll let ya'll in on some things I've been keeping on the DL because our adoption. I wanted nothing floating around cyberspace that could have jeopardized it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Much Anticipated Post!

So here it is! I'm going to narrarate some but mostly let the pictures speak themselves. We got the definitive email for our Embassy date at 1:30 Am the morning that we had to leave for Ethiopia. For those outside the Ethiopia adoption world, it wasn't a total surprise. We submitted 3 dates and the Embassy tries to get the one you want according to their availablity. We also had to get to ET by Thurs to do the birth family meeting if we chose to b/c these only happen over the weekend for Bethany Christian Services families. My father-in-law came with me and Joey stayed back with the girls. I wanted him home with me our first week home and we decided this was also the best situation for our girls. My mother-in-law stayed, too, and watched the girls during the day.

So we traveled over ocean, time zones and even fueled in Sudan (scary) and made it into ET at 9:30ish PM on Thurs. We didn't even know what guest house we were in until we got off the plane and saw our BCS staffer, Abel (best guide ever!), and he took us and 2 other families to our first choice, Morning Coffee Guest House!

On Friday we went to Shalom Transitional Home to see JP again. He was a totally different child from the last visit. He came to me with open arms and hugged my neck. We played and laughed and he had fun playing with Doug aka Elba (grandpa name. I know it's awful but what can you do?)

I'll let the pics take over...

Seating and playing with mom!

The glasses always do the trick! He was obessesed with them the last visit and we are not above bribery at this point and it worked!

Peek-a-boo with the glasses? Reeling him in...!

Ring-around the Rosies was a favorite too.

We stayed all morning and had to leave. We wouldn't pick him up until Monday. But I felt good about our meeting and it was an answer to prayer.

Our trip to Awassa (southern region of ET) would include seeing Shalom Orphanage and meeting JP's Birthfamily. It's a 5 hr trip and we stopped for lunch at Lake Langano. As you can see it's beautiful and dry. Very desertisque.

We got to Awassa and rested for a white. Awassa was a beautiful city. A college town. Very clean and had lots of hotels. There were large crowds for a marathon on Saturday. We anxiously waited>

Finally we head to the orphanage and take a tour. I get to meet the special nanny that JP loved very much and that she had a special love for him. It was sad b/c all the children in this facility don't have families yet. They were charming and sweet and there was also LOTS of babies here.

Interesting to see that Shalom was given funds to open by Angelina Jolie's organization.

After the tour we all (3 families) go to meet the birth family. They called JP's name last so through the process of elimination and my own educated guess I lock eyes with his Great Aunt. We hug and cry and she does the traditional cheek to cheek kiss. I choose not to post a more clear picture of her out of respect. But we just clicked. Our interview/conversation lasted about 45 min and we had 2 translators. She spoke Sidaminga? and then it was translated to Amharic and then to English. My translators were great and I had Doug video the meeting. It was a priceless gift that is beyond value.

This was one of my translated. She was taken with Doug. She kept stroking his hair and marveled at his age. She also couldn't believe he had all his real teeth! I told him that if he started acting up I was leaving him with her! He straightened up.

The next day we left Awassa and saw the marathoners. Pretty cool, we saw the leaders pack and several had bare feet.

Monday rolls around and it's time to get the kiddos! There were two of us with boys at Shalom. We went to their room to get them b/c it was during rest/nap time. We brought a change of clothes. The boys in his room oooohwed and awwwed over his shoes. He was real proud of them and I had to hide them for the plane ride home so that he would wear the crocs.

A nanny giving him the traditional kiss.

Us leaving. Note the glasses.

Sweet guy with the glassesJP with one of his Shalom buddies at Morning Coffee. It really helped with the transition to have 4 kids at the guest house all from Shalom. They had been together for so long and made them feel a little more secure.

Embassy day! JP and his friend all spiffy for their Embassy appointments! What cuties.

This is on the balcony at MCGH. Beautiful view for a joyous day!

The next day we took a little hike and played outside.

Hiking around with Mom

Ethiopia's dish: Injera. JP loves it and we can't wait to take him to a wonderful Ethiopian restaurant in Memphis.

This was JP's social worker, Blen. We cherished her reports each month and loved that she loved him so much. A sweet girl who is awaiting her visa for the US to join her husband in TX. I hope to see her again.

He's home now and doing surprisingly well. We have our issues and most is typical two yr old stuff but he's doing sooooo good. The girls have just acted like he's always been here. I play referee A LOT. But I guess that's life with 3 kids four and under.

Do I not have the cutest kids on the earth?

These two are buddies! Becoming the best of friends.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Birth Family Meeting

A quick  update.  We just arrived back at the guest house after 2 days and 1 night in the southern region that JP first entered the orphanage and close to his birth city.  I was able to meet his Great Aunt that cared for him before he was relinquished.  I wasn't even sure that she would come but she did and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.   We saw each other and hugged and we cried and she kissed me over and over.  There was no akwardness and we just cried and laughed together and really understood each other.  She is a Christian and has prayed for him his whole life. You could sense her relief in meeting me and seeing his pictures and knowing he is taken care of.  I feel like I have a lot of answers for him one day and a lot of love to share with him from her.  IT was a priveledge and honor to meet her and hear the beginning of his story.  There is so much to tell and plenty I'll never share with the world(sorry blog world), only him.  Continue to pray
as we pick JP up tomorrow afternoon for good!!!!