Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Snapshot: New Brother, New Friend

Yesterday, Kaya looked at me & said, "My new brudder is home?"

Yes, sweetie, he's home.

Ni Hao Y'all

Friday, May 28, 2010

What Happens When You Say Yes?

Our adoption from Ethiopia was a leap of faith. People ask all the time how we decided on Ethiopia, and my answer is always, "God". We had no intention of adopting internationally, but our ways are not God's ways. (By the way, we also had no intention of EVER doing foster care, & we ended up doing that, too...see a theme?) This journey has been amazing in so many ways, & tonight was yet another beautiful example of how God blesses us beyond our imaginations just because we said "yes".

Only a few months ago, two little boys were friends in an orphanage over 8,000 miles away. Today, these same two little boys are living with their families in America...about 40 miles from each other. And because their new parents said yes to God's calling, they get to enjoy a special new friendship on top of getting to be mommy & daddy to these two awesome boys. God is so cool like that.

May I always trust His plans so that I don't miss out on the gifts He has in store.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thankful Thursday {Children's Heaven, Ethiopia}

Before we left for Ethiopia, I had been praying for many aspects of our trip, including what God might have for Kameryn there. She was very anxious to experience Ethiopia, but she also wanted to DO something. I am so thankful every time I reflect on our time there & the doors that were opened for her to love others. I have some beautiful pictures of her with the little children at my son's orphanage, but out of respect for other adoptive parents, I will not post those. You'll just have to trust me...they are beautiful pictures of Kami loving & being loved by sweet little girls & boys. I know that they have left a special imprint on her heart.

The other opportunity that presented itself was a trip to Children's Heaven. You can learn more about this wonderful organization at Hanna has a great ministry going there for girls. We went to visit on our last day in Ethiopia, & it was amazing. Kami got to spend time with girls close to her own age, & they were thrilled to find out that she plays basketball. Come to find out, they have been very curious about the game of basketball, so after we enjoyed listening to them sing for us & having a snack together, we headed out into the compound so that Kami could show & teach some of her basketball skills.

Since they do not have basketballs yet, they made due with soccer balls.

The girls were fascinated at how Kami could dribble between her legs. I loved how they would watch her & then head off by themselves to practice & then come back to show her how they were doing.

Suddenly, a downpour hit. However, four of the girls were not about to quit, so they stayed outside with Kami for a game of soccer in the pouring rain.
The fabulous 5...Soaked but smiling.
The sweet, beautiful afternoon group of girls at Children's Heaven.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time visiting. As we were leaving, one of the girls said, "Kameryn, we love you!" I am thankful for the moments that leave us never the same.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bustin' Out the Bathing Suits

Summer really is coming! And I think our Ethiopian dude is going to get along just fine.
Kade is really enjoying his little brother. Notice the matching trunks. Bless Kade's heart...he thought this was very cool. Love these boys. It's really quite crazy how much alike they are!

Boys . . .

K'Tyo took a break to try & get Kaya in on some water action. Alas, I think the girl has decided that bathing suits are merely an accessory for her cuteness.

Friday, May 21, 2010

More Ethiopia Memories

Part of a journal entry from my time in Ethiopia:
"...We then visited the Leprosy hospital & what a blessing it was. The people we got to meet made me cry. Really. I mean they really made me cry, but not b/c I felt sorry for them, but because I was so surprised & overwhelmed by their outpouring of love. They asked our driver so many questions about us having K'Tyo to which they would then say over & over, 'Lucky boy. Lucky, lucky boy.' And then they would say, 'God be with you. God bless you.' I think I am the lucky one...."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

First Days in Ethiopia

From my journal the Tuesday after "Gotcha Day":

"What a difference a couple of days makes. On Sunday, I was scared. Trying to get to know K'Tyo but having to take care of some basics--cleaning him up, trying to communicate & being exhausted on top of it was hard.

Yesterday, we went back to the Care Center in the morning, & I think it's the best thing we could have done. At first, you could tell K'Tyo was apprehensive, but our driver explained to him what we were doing. When we went in the gate, all the children came running yelling his name. Suddenly, he was a celebrity, & he was loving it. It was so fun to watch him play with his friends & meet some of the nannies. Once he was playing & having a good time, I got to go in & visit with Sister & hold babies. Once lunch was over, the children laid down (well, they were supposed to be--they were watching us out the window) & we left again with K'Tyo. It was almost as if this confirmed for him that the Care Center was no longer his home.

We had a wonderful afternoon of shopping & seeing more of Ethiopia. I don't think I will ever forget the sweet smile of a boy about Kami's age that started walking with us & asked her if she was from America & then told her she was pretty. He did not beg for money, but when we got to the car to leave, we gave him some anyway.

Today, we had our embassy appt. It turned into a long day, but it's done. When we got there, we got out of the van & a homeless man came running (hobbling) to us. He had very obvious skin disease & hygiene issues, but he grabbed K'Tyo's face & kissed him on both cheeks. This man was the poster child for the homeless or the "untouchable", but his first priority was to delight in this little boy, not to ask for money. The lump in my throat wouldn't go away for a long time.

Everywhere I look, I see things in a state that I could never have imagined--shacks with tin roofs, rubble, dirt, people sleeping in the street, I have seen 2 bodies lying by the side of the road, babies running around half naked with no shoes, donkeys & goats in the road fighting for a place amidst the many, many cars, extreme poverty everywhere...and yet, I love it here. I think it has nothing to do with what it looks like, but everything to do with the underlying attitude. I will have to keep processing it to try to put it into words.

I think K'Tyo is every bit as ornery as Kami. We so enjoyed going up on the roof after dinner with the light-up toy & then...oh, my! I have not laughed so hard in a long time. They got in their jammies & were doing somersaults & then the dancing broke out. This child can laugh and dance like nobody's business.

Day by day, this child is becoming my son....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Dentist Appointment...

Ok, seriously, does this child break a sweat over anything? Well, besides a woosha (dog)....

Sorry for the picture quality...cell phone

Yes, he was that happy and laid back through the whole appointment. And the best news--NO CAVITIES!!! After the initial shock of that news wore off, I experienced extreme jubilation for the both of us...he would not have to experience the pain in his mouth, & I would not have to experience it in my checkbook. It's been a good day!

Tomorrow I intend to continue a post from my journaling in Ethiopia! :o)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Going Back to "Gotcha Day"

Here's the beginning of what I hope to be a series of posts from my trip to Ethiopia. I included a picture from the airport before we left. The only other things to say about that are 1) the flight was long; 2) I felt like dog meat upon arrival. Nuff said.

So, after having a decent night of sleep, we got up for the big day. The day you wait for & try to envision for a very long time. It was very surreal, & then became a bit comical. We were picked up in this van...there are many, many of these in Ethiopia, and they all have their own flare. Ours was decked out in fur on the dash & all kinds of other funky accessories. We got to enjoy what I assume was Ethiopian rap on our way to the orphanage. Not sure that's what I had envisioned, but I was kind of diggin' it!

The metal gate to the orphanage was opened, and the first thing we saw were toddler-age children everywhere, but we didn't see K'Tyo. So, we followed the other parents into the baby room & watched as they were united with their little ones. I was glad we got to witness this for a few minutes, but then we decided to venture out to see if we could find our boy. Just as we were about to step out of the door, Kami said, "Mom, there's 'Tyo". With his huge arm sling, it was unmistakably him. I think he was trying to figure out what all the excitement was about b/c he looked kind of puzzled. It's a little bit of a blur, but I remember squatting down & saying his name. He looked at me, & I pointed to myself & said, "Mommy". He came to me, a little bashful at first, but once he put his arms around my neck, he literally did not let go. I know I keep using this word, but it was very surreal.

Now, that was the fairytale part. The reality began to hit as this sweet little boy stayed very close during our whole visit. He never got far from me or Kameryn, but all I could think was, "I need to clean him up". I moved past the emotion of the experience to a bit of panic. I think a lot of it was being tired & it's also very overwhelming. We finally got back to the guest house, and I was into "roll-up-my-sleeves" mode. He was in desperate need of a bath, nail trimming, & teeth brushing. Lots of teeth brushing. At the end of the day when he was tucked into bed, I felt more like a nurse than a momma. I had to shed a few tears as I desperately was missing my husband & other children all the while wondering what had just happened.

The reason I'm sharing this is b/c I've said before that I don't like to pretend or try to portray perfection. Lots of things in life are hard. This was a beautiful but extremely hard day. But here's the good news: We made it through, and Monday morning brought a new day with new experiences showered in a good dose of God's grace. I look forward to sharing in the coming days details surrounding falling in love with my son.....