As for me, I know of nothing else but miracles. - Walt Whitman

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ethiopia - Trip Two - Day Three...GOTCHA DAY!!

November 13, 2011
We woke up a little before 8:00 this morning. I tried to take a shower, but the water shut off halfway through. I had to wash my hair by dumping cold bottled water over my head. Brrr! I was glad to get out of there! After we were ready for the day, we packed the gifts for the workers at Hannah's Hope and some clothes for the boys in our bags. I then opened the Bible to Ecclesiastes 3, which I thought was very fitting for the day:

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven....a time to embrace....a time to get....a time to keep....a time to love. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time."

We ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and at 10:00, Danny came to pick us up. We loaded our donations into the van and then headed to Hannah's Hope! On the way, Danny told us that every day, the boys ask, "Where is my ferengi (white person)?" We soon pulled up to the familiar black gates and honked. As soon as the guard opened the gate, I saw Opiyew playing with the other children. We climbed out of the van and walked toward the boys. They definitely seemed to recognize and remember us, and they were wearing the shirts that we had sent them for their birthdays. We ran up and gave them hugs, and all the other children gathered around and began chanting, "Opiyew, Opiyew, Opiyew! Uchan, Uchan, Uchan!" I think most of the older ones knew and understood that Opiyew's and Uchan's "ferengis" had come back, and that the boys would be going to live in "Amedica" now.

We played with the boys for awhile and took some photos of them with their friends. I visited with Tsige, who told me that the boys' birth mother had come back to Hannah's Hope when she had her Embassy appointment  a week and a half ago. The HH staff gave her the 2nd photo book we made for her, and took lots of pictures of her and the boys together, which they put on a CD for us. What a precious, precious gift. In the pictures, she is still wearing the necklace that she made - the same one that she made for each of the boys as well. Theirs are stored away safely at home.

We handed out the presents we brought. Everyone was very thankful. After changing Opiyew and Uchan into the underwear, pants, and socks we had with us, I went into the baby house. I took photos of some of the children whose parents we knew so I could send them some updated pictures. Then, it was time for the boys to eat. Uchan ate fine, but Opiyew was sad and wouldn't eat. Chris figured out later that it was because on our first trip, when it was time for us to leave each day, the special mothers would take the boys to eat. Poor Opiyew thought that if he ate, we would leave him again!

Tsige gave us some information on what to expect for our U.S. Embassy appointment tomorrow, along with the boys' vaccination records. Then it was time to go. Tomea, the guard, took some photos of us outside the gates, and the boys looked around in wonder at everything going on in the street.
Gotcha Day photo outside the gates of Hannah's Hope

We then climbed into the van, and the boys were thrilled to be able to ride in the "mekina". They stared out the windows for the entire ride.

Danny stopped to buy us a case of bottled water (a necessity in Ethiopia!), and then we drove the short distance to the hotel. When we walked in, Opi immediately started crying. When Uchan heard him, he started whimpering, too. They were definitely outside their comfort zones. Chris took Opi right to the room, and he cried the whole way. I carried Uchan, and a hotel worker followed us carrying our case of water. As soon as we got into our room, I showed the boys the soccer balls and cars we had brought, and they settled down. They loved the little firetruck and police car that make noises and light up when the buttons are pushed. We gave them some Goldfish crackers, which they loved, and filled up their water bottles for them. 

Soon it was nap-time.  We prayed with them, and then Uchan fell asleep quickly. Opiyew cried for awhile and did not want to sleep. We rocked him, massaged him, and played some music for him (Amazing Grace, which I thought was fitting for the day - "I once was lost, but now am found...."). He finally went to sleep, so Chris and I napped, too. Uchan woke up first, so we took him in the other room to play so that he wouldn't wake up Opi. We also played ball with him out on the balcony. Opi woke up soon after this, and we played ball and blew bubbles down in the courtyard.

Back in the room, the boys entertained themselves very well. We skyped with my mom, who was watching our other kids. As soon as Opiyew and Uchan saw Shana on the computer screen, they got very excited and yelled, "Shana! Shana!" They definitely remembered her from our first trip as well. Then it was bath time. The boys loved the tub and kept splashing and sticking their heads under the water.

A little later, we went down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. We ordered spaghetti for the boys, and they loved it! They ate it all, and then helped me eat my injera and tibs. We were amazed at how much food they could put away, especially since they had snacked all afternoon. And they absolutely adore pop, which they call "Coka."
 Opiyew and Daddy

Uchan and his beloved "Coka"

When we got back to the room, we dressed them in their PJ's and brushed their teeth. We said their prayers with them, and it was so cute hearing them repeat the words after us. They did really well at bedtime, although Opiyew took a lot longer to fall asleep.

Tomorrow is Embassy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ethiopia - Trip Two - Day Two

November 12, 2011

We arrived in Frankfurt at about 8:00 this morning. We had a 4-hour layover, in which I tried to get some sleep. However, it didn't exactly work out like I had hoped! We then climbed aboard another plane for a long, but uneventful flight to Addis Ababa. When we got there, we had to wait in the visa and customs lines for about 2 hours. We visited with several other families that were there on work teams or were adopting through other agencies. We finally made it through and collected our bags - they all made it!! Yay!

Addis Ababa Airport

We walked out the doors and found a man holding a sign with our names on it. The poor guy had been waiting on us for 2 hours! We loaded everything into his van, headed to the Riviera International Hotel, and checked into good ol' room #706 (same suite as last time). After buying some bottled water and taking all of our luggage to our room, we came back to the lobby to check e-mails and send a message to our families that we had made it ok. We also received a schedule for the week that said we were to be reunited with our boys at 10:00 in the morning!

Back in our room, we organized the clothes, gifts and other items to take to Hannah's Hope in the morning. Exhausted but excited, we got to bed around 1:00 a.m. Tomorrow (or later today, rather) is Gotcha Day!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ethiopia - Trip Two - Day One

Friday, November 11, 2011
Chris and I got the kids ready for school, packed the van, and headed to Detroit. I was experiencing many different emotions, and felt as though I was dreaming. At one point, I told Chris to pinch me, because it just didn't feel real. Are we actually headed back to Ethiopia? Are we really at this point in the process? Are we really doing this? Are we really going to see our boys again and bring them home? For good?

Chris and I spent the day together at Greenfield Village. We kind of figured it would be the last time that the two of us could get away by ourselves for awhile. In the middle of the afternoon, we headed to the airport. We soon found out that Lufthansa is more strict about luggage than either Ethiopian Airlines or Turkish Airlines was on our first trip. The agent told us that two of our carry-ons were too big, even though they were the same bags we used on our first trip. We were going to have to check them, which gave us a total of 6 checked bags. We were only allowed 4. We explained to him that most of the bags were filled with donations for orphans, and asked if he would be willing to waive the extra baggage fees. He asked another woman, and they decided to let us check the bags for no charge. We didn't even have to show our agency's donation letter! And every other person in line had to weigh their carry-on and check it if it was too heavy. That wonderful man never even weighed our 2 bags that were left and we were fairly certain that they were way overweight. God was busy working things out for us!!

As we were boarding the plane, we met a man from Canada with whom we share some mutual friends. When we explained to him that we were going to Ethiopia to pick up our 3-year-old twin boys, he informed us that he has 3-year-old twin boys at home. He said that we would be very busy and that we would require lots of patience! :-)

We had a very long but uneventful flight to Frankfurt, Germany, in which I got no sleep. Tomorrow night we arrive in Addis! This seems so surreal!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Common Sights Around Our House.....

Lately, we have been seeing a lot of:

1. "Faras" (horse) rides. The twins love them, and ask to ride the "faras" every day.

2. Pink sunglasses. Jalen discovered these in the toy box, and has fallen in love with them.

3. Masked men.

4. Singing and dancing. Boy, do these guys have moves!!

5. Love/hate relationships with our "wusha" (dog). Jalen and Jordan love to look at Copper from a distance, but if he comes close, you would think someone is being brutally murdered somewhere. Today, however, Chris held Copper and showed Jalen that there is nothing to fear. Jalen even went so far as to pet him and get licked a few times! Now, Jalen has decided that he would rather kiss us doggy style, and waggles his tongue back and forth if we ask for a kiss. Eeewwww!! Silly boy!

6. Button-pushing and light-switching. Oh my word. These boys love to push as many buttons and flip as many switches as they can in a day. I don't know how many times that the dishwasher has been in the middle of a cycle and one of the twins will start punching buttons. Or how many times my washer has been in the middle of a load of laundry and they will turn it off. Or change the settings. I don't know how many times my dryer has been busily drying away guessed it....all those little lit-up buttons will prove to be too tempting for little hands. And now, for some reason, my dryer's cooling setting is stuck on all the time, and the clothes don't get very dry without heat. Hmmmm........I guess I need to learn to set the child lock on my appliances every time I start them. Something I haven't had to do before. Oh, yes - and the ceiling fans. Don't even get me started........It seems that Jordan has a serious addiction to ceiling fans.........Here, I caught them in the act.....

7. Bunna (Ethiopian Coffee). Yumm!!!!

8. Outside play time. No matter how cold it is, Jalen and Jordan love to play outside (as long as the "wusha" isn't anywhere near!) with all the mekinas (cars, trucks, tricycles, bikes, motorized Jeep etc. Basically, anything with wheels). I wasn't sure how they would react to Ohio weather since they've never been exposed to these kinds of temperatures, but they don't seem to mind at all.

The boys seem to be attaching to us very well, and each day seems to get a little easier. They sleep good, eat almost anything, and are understanding more English every day. Chris has not gone to work since we brought the twins home a week ago, though, and the oldest 4 kids have been on Thanksgiving break for the past few days. Next week might prove to be interesting when Chris gets back into his regular routine, the kids go back to school, and it's just me, Jalen and Jordan left at home........ Jordan loves his ababa (daddy) so much, and usually is not happy if Chris is out of his sight for more than a few minutes. We might be using Facetime quite a bit during the coming days.....

Although this past week has been pretty crazy at our house, we love these little guys so much and are so thankful that God has blessed our lives with them. They are so much fun!!! We are enjoying sharing all the new experiences with them, and they are having a ball discovering "Amedica" and all that their new country has to offer.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Jalen Opiyew and Jordan Uchan!!!
Please meet our new sons (Jordan - left, Jalen - right):

This is what they do when you tell them to smile:

Outside the gates of Hannah's Hope on Gotcha Day:

Daddy's boys:

Right before we left Ethiopia:

Back at Detroit airport with the whole family:

6 kiddos!!

We made it home (even though our luggage didn't! Not even the 40 bags of coffee we bought - GASP!!), and we're all doing great!!! The kids love their new little brothers, and they're all having so much fun playing together! Thanks so much for your prayers - we appreciate them all.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Here We Go Again!!!

Well, we're off to Ethiopia again to bring our boys home!!

Thanks again to those of you who gave donations or money to help fill all those totes in the picture up there. There are many orphans in Ethiopia who will be blessed by you!

Although our adoption process is coming to an end, our journey has really only begun. We appreciate your continued support and prayers as we become a family of 8. (8! Wow - is this really happening? We've waited for this day for so long, but now that it's here, it doesn't seem real somehow........)

 I don't know if I'll be able to update the blog while we're in Africa, but I will definitely fill you in on our travels and experiences when we get home. And..........I'll be able to post pictures of Jalen and Jordan soon, so stay tuned!!

Thanks again for the prayers! Off we go!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Time of Peace.....

At the risk of sounding crazy, I'll let you all in on an odd little fact about myself: I have a history with the time 11:11. Something about the sameness of the numbers has always been a sign of peace for me. It seems that whenever I am struggling with something or just need encouragement, I happen to glance at the clock at 11:11 and just know that everything is going to be OK; God will take care of me.

This has been happening for the past 16 years or so - ever since I surrendered my life to Christ. It has occurred frequently during our adoption process as well: at the beginning when we hadn't fully decided to adopt yet but felt that God was leading us there, after I heard the voice clearly say, "Adoption is no longer one, but two" and we decided to change our homestudy to include siblings, more recently as our case has progressed further, and many times in between. I would look at the clock at 11:11 and just know that it was a sign of peace from God. He also gave us an amazing gift for our 11th wedding anniversary, which was in 2011: a free 7-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera. And recently I was sitting in church thinking about all these 11's, when I decided to grab the hymnal and see what song #11 was. The very last line of the hymn reads, "Peace be unto you." So then I picked up a different songbook and looked up #11 in that one as well. Some of the verses read:

"Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed.
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow.
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

The verses of this song restate some of my very favorite verses of the Bible - verses that have been a huge help to us through our adoption journey:

 "But now thus saith the Lord that created thee...and he that formed thee...Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even everyone that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him." -Isaiah 43:1-7

It shouldn't surprise me, then, with all the 11's in my life (and all of the meaning behind them), that we will be bringing our boys home in November of 2011 -


Our adoption journey really began two years ago in November, and now the boys will be coming home in November, which by the way, is also National Adoption Month. So from 11 to 11.......

What's more, we are leaving for Ethiopia on - 


My God is so awesome like that. He loves to send me little love notes. I know we'll have some hard days ahead, but I will be able to look back at all these signs and know that God is in this with us. That He led us here for a reason. That He will continue to bring me all the peace and reassurance I need if I keep looking to Him and trusting in His goodness.

Lastly, I wanted to share this verse that my brother-in-law emailed to me: Hosea 11:11 They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.”

Have a great day, everyone!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jalen And Jordan Are Coming Home!!!!!

We received an email from the American Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, early this morning. They have given us


We will soon be headed back to Africa to bring our boys home!! We don't have our travel dates yet, but expect to receive them in the next few days. Thank you so much for your continued support and prayers - we appreciate it all so much more than we can express. We give all glory and honor to God, who made this all possible. He is so good. We are so blessed.