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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Year in Review.....

2011 was an amazing year full of changes and blessings. It was hard, joyous, stressful, exciting and faith-building, all at the same time. I now have more gray hair than ever before, but I would have to say that it has been one of the best years of my life. Here's a quick recap:

In January, we started off the year on our adoption agency's wait list at #29 for girls, #17 for boys, and #12 for siblings. I also repainted several rooms in our house.

In February, Chris's sweet grandma passed away, and although we miss her, we know she is in a better place. Our church hosted a large conference, and we helped with meals and kept overnight guests. We also celebrated Shana's 10th birthday, and survived a winter storm while Chris was away on business for a week.

In March, we went on a little getaway to Indianapolis. We also received the news that the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Ethiopia was going to decrease the number of adoptions that they would process and approve by as much as 90%. Although we were worried as to how this would affect our case, God showed us clearly that He was still in control and had a perfect plan for us. March also found us collecting lots of donations to take with us when we went to Africa.

In April, my sister and her little boy came to visit for a few days. Chris and I helped to plan Vacation Bible School, and we celebrated Easter. God blessed us with a new nephew, Lincoln Frederick. Chris and I also celebrated our 11th anniversary and went on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera.

May found us celebrating Ashton's 7th birthday. Another new nephew, Weston Gage, was born, and the kids finished their year of school. We took a surprise trip up to Michigan.

In June, we celebrated Malia's 5th birthday. Chris and I both taught Vacation Bible School, and and we were at #10 for girls, #3 for boys, and #4 for siblings on the adoption wait list. Then, we received our referral for 2 1/2 year-old twin boys!! For the first time, we got to see the faces of the children we had waited so long and prayed so hard for. God answered our prayers and revealed to us His plan for our family! Because we were now a family of 8, we purchased a full-sized van.

In July, we traveled to Kentucky and Michigan. Another nephew, Symon Pierre, was born. I put the finishing touches on the twins' bedroom, and we received a very quick court date for our adoption. At the end of July, Chris, Shana and I traveled to Ethiopia!

August was the month that we met our Ethiopian princes for the first time! We spent a wonderful week with them, enjoying Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian countryside. We had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the twins' beautiful birth mother. Our MOWA letter was not present in our file when we attended court, so we traveled home, not knowing when we would see the boys again. Leaving them was one of the hardest things we have ever done. We celebrated Adrian's 9th birthday in August, and spent a weekend at a water park with Chris's family. Then, the kids went back to school - all 4 of them! Malia started kindergarten this year!

In September, we spent a long weekend at the lake with my sister and brother-in-law. We got used to the school routine again, and I babysat for several weeks for a one-year-old girl. After that, it was just me at home by myself during the days, for the first time in 10 years! Chris and I also traveled to Cincinnati to get re-fingerprinted for our adoption.

In October, we finally passed court and found out that the twins were now officially ours! We celebrated their 3rd birthday from the other side of the world. Our case was submitted to the U.S. Embassy, who requested an interview with the boys' birth mother. We also received our updated FDL. I went on a little getaway to Holmes County with my mom, sister and sister-in-law.

November was a busy month! The U.S. Embassy interviewed the twins' birth mother, and gave us clearance! We had one week to make travel arrangements, and Chris and I left for Ethiopia on 11/11/11. The 13th was Gotcha Day, and we were thrilled to be reunited with our sons! We had our Embassy appointment on the 14th and arrived home on the 17th. We settled into life as a family of 8, and had so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

December has been an incredible month, and we have experienced all kinds of exciting moments with Jalen and Jordan. They are getting used to life in America. Shana had a solo in the school Christmas play. Chris and I both had birthdays this month, and we had a wonderful Christmas as well. We took a trip to Cincinnati with the kids, and the twins loved swimming for the first time. And here it is - the last day of December. The last day of the year!

Goodbye, 2011!

You were an incredible year, and we know that 2012 will be as well. We can't wait to see what God has in store for us!

May God bless each of you with peace and joy throughout this next year and always.

Happy New Year!!!!!!

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