Wednesday, December 21, 2011


ImageChef Word Mosaic -

Oh, yes, we did!!! I was getting ready to make the frosting so we could decorate the cut-out cookies last night. I turned on the computer in the kitchen for some Christmas music, & decided to check my email real quick. Not much shocks me, but I let out a yell...poor Joe thought I had hurt myself! We only waited 36 days...that's about half of the current average. I did not even have any of the necessary paperwork for this step ready, & any of you that know me know that I'm all about having the paperwork ready!'s been a busy day, but I'm on my way to send off the next round of papers. Feeling VERY thankful & excited to be taking this big step toward Kemeri coming home!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Suicide Hits Home

I need to talk about something that's been hurting my heart for a long time. There may be no eloquence in this post; it may not even flow real well, but my emotions are raw. Yesterday for the third time in the last month, a male student in our community chose to end his life. Three children (yes, high school kids are still just children) have commited suicide, and two of them my daughter knew. Exactly two years and 11 days ago, our family was rocked by suicide, so each time the news has come so close to home, we relive the pain, the questions, & the anger all over again.

As I was reading posts on FB this morning, there's an outcry that the school administration needs to do something immediately! I'd like to make another suggestion. We all need to do something. While teachers & administrators are a wonderful support, the responsibility cannot be solely theirs to bring about change.

We've quickly become a society that shifts the blame to the "higher ups". I believe the change needs to begin with you and me. I do not know the reasons behind why these boys decided that death was less painful than life, but you don't have to look far to have a few ideas.

Before I go any further, understand something. I have never been nor will I ever be a perfect parent. I have made mistakes, & so have my children. But one thing we talk about time & again in our home is how we treat other people. Unfortunately, this no longer seems to be the norm. The hallways of schools, from elementary on up, have become a cut throat environment of competitiveness between our young people. Sit at ANY athletic contest & you can hear grown adults bad mouthing children. There is little tolerance for anyone that does not meet the accepted level of "cool" or the expectations of onlookers. Many of our youth have resorted to proving their worth through the degrading of others through straight out hateful words. Sticks & stones nothing...words hurt & tend to embed themselves into the heart & mind of a child, festering into a twisted reality they begin to perceive as truth.

And it begins at home.

We no longer teach humility; we teach being the best. We no longer teach serving others; we teach entitlement. We no longer teach encouragement; we teach that everyone is our competition. We no longer teach compassion & empathy; we teach judgement.

And thus we have created an environment for ourselves & our children of no love, no tolerance, no acceptance...NO HOPE.

So you might be thinking, "Well, yeah, maybe there's a bit of that going on, but not every person that commits suicide is feeling bullied. Some are mentally ill." Speaking of no tolerance...

Let's face it. There's a HUGE stigma with mental illness. We have not created an environment where people feel safe in saying, "I think I might have a problem. These thoughts are overtaking my every moment. I can't fight them. I'm scared. I need help." Please. It makes people uncomfortable. If someone becomes physically ill, we rally around them; if someone is mentally ill, we don't want to know. We'd prefer they'd just pull themselves up by the bootstraps & fake it til they make it.

What if we became communities of people that fostered an atmosphere of tolerance? What if we instilled in our children humble, empathic hearts that looked to encourage one another? What if people felt safe enough to share their hurts & vulnerabilities? What if we were a people willing to climb in the ditch to help bring someone out?

I'm not trying to be simplistic or naive. Life is hard, but must we be contributors to it or always look for "the administration" to fix it? No. I think we need to take responsibility for how we're raising our children, how we're treating the people we come across every single day, & what our attitudes are towards those who don't seem to be just like us.

"People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."

So what will your legacy be?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree!

We have a beautiful Christmas tree farm close by, so we head there every year for a wagon ride, cookies, hot chocolate, &, oh yes, the Christmas tree.

Kam, providing the human barricade. Lots of holes from trees dug up, & Kendi was determined to wipe out in one. The girl in the background is one of Kam's friends that came along to witness the silliness enjoy the fun. ;)

This pretty much sums it up. Kyler pointing one way, Joe pointing another. This might have been the only time everyone was headed in the same direction!

However, this was not the only time Daddy could be seen taking MORE pictures with his phone.

Mommy's punkin...Gosh, last year she was snuggled up in the Ergo for our Christmas tree outing. Now, she's much too busy to be held for long!

Evidently, we spotted one?

I think we hiked all through this group of trees. You have to look at every one, right?

Maybe Kaya doesn't think so.

Should you get tired of hunting for the perfect tree, the stumps make for a great place to make like the Karate Kid.

KiKi, the Karate Kid?? Jury's out on that one.

Normally, we go early in the day, but we ended up going right before they closed. Actually, we closed them down. I think this may have to be our new normal, because being there when the sun is setting was pretty sweet.

K'Tyo, always ready for the silly picture. And Kade is really not an angry child. No, he's one of the silliest ones, but his mission in life has become sporting the game face anytime the camera comes out. Isn't he just the cutest thing? About as cute as any preteen can be, I suppose. Stinker.

In the end, we left the field without cutting a tree & picked one that had already been cut earlier in the day. Our perception of the size of the trees is never real good out in the field, so we are notorious for getting a tree that has to have a foot cut off just to fit in the living room.

This one touches the ceiling, but even better than being as tall as possible, it's FAT! I have always loved nice, wide trees. Poor Joe. They tend to be a little ornery when it comes to getting them straight. It only almost fell over on him once while Kyler & I stood back to see if it was straight.

Somehow when it came time to decorate, Kaya & K'Tyo were the only ones game for helping. I never knew how many ornaments you could fit on the lower third of the tree.

Kendi finally decided she needed to check things out.

There are not many days that we get to do something with almost everyone together, but when we do, they are the best gift.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Why Do I Blog?

I've actually thought about this question quite a few times, even more over the last couple days. There's really no one answer. A friend encouraged me a few years back to start a blog b/c I have some experiences/testimonies to share. I have journaled for a long time, so this is a way for me to journal, too. It has also afforded me the opportunity to connect with others beyond those right next door to share experiences & learn a thing or two. In the back of my mind, though, I've always known there would come a day I would either make a mistake or tick somebody off with a personal decision.

Little did I know I'd manage to do both all at once. If you've taken time to ever read my profile, it states, "It's an imperfect world, I'm an imperfect person..." Case in point: In the last several days, I have had quite a few comments on my blog. Unfortunately, one of those comments was innappropriate in content, & I missed it. For that, I am very sorry and am glad that it was brought to my attention so that I could remove it.

I completely understood this person's anger at such a thing, but evidently, our choice to rename our son was equally disturbing to her, or actually, I believe the word was "disgusted". On that, we will have to agree to disagree, but I do hope you might hear my heart on this. We did not make this decision on a whim or based on satisfying some self-centered need. Just as things like circumcision are constantly hot topics, there really is no rule book with a right or wrong answer. Everyone tends to have a passionate opinion, but in the end, it's a personal decision. We know some that kept their child's given name in full; we know others that changed it completely, with no trace of anything from the original. After reading (& reading, & reading) articles, forums & anything else we came across about renaming an adopted child, we really felt "damned if you do; damned it you don't." If we had not given him a "K" name like his siblings, we could have been judged for making him feel left out. In the end, we tried to give him both. Through translators, both in Ethiopia & here, we were able to communicate about these possibilities, & in the end, he liked K'Tyo. And, no, I did not try to persuade him. Pa-leeeze....anyone that has hit the teen stage knows that if you try to make your kids' decisions for them knows that it will come back to bite you in the butt with, "But you made me..." Nope, not interested in goin' there.

But here's the thing. I followed your link & did a little reading. I think maybe you think you already know me. That maybe I'm full of "unicorn farts & rainbows as I'm out in the world "saving" children" by giving them the awesome opportunity to be adopted by me. Umm, no. I have written some posts about the journeys to our children b/c I am amazed that out of this whole big world, I get to know them, love them, & be part of their lives.


Here's the other side of the coin. In a perfect world, there would be no need for adoption. Children would be able to remain with their parents, & parents would be able to care for their children. Our outlook on adoption has never been & never will be to "save" a child, nor has it ever been a "Plan B". We don't believe in finding children for families, but families for children that are in need of one. I'm not looking for a child to fill some need in me to feel like I'm saving the world or to gain attention. If I wanted attention, I'd do something way easier. Parenting is hard; parenting children that will always have the pain of a missing piece is harder. Still too fluffy? Here's a few other things you don't know: You don't know that I held my little girl's mother in my arms time & again when no one else thought her "worthy" of anything, let alone respect & kindness. You don't know that at her request, I sat in on visits to make them easier on her. Many asked me "why?"..."Why would you make it easy for her? Why not let her get completely frustrated so she would just quit coming to visits?" Why? Because it was the right thing to do, and because I honor the fact that she is her mother, beyond the circumstances that prevented her from being able to function on a daily basis as such. You don't know that even though this was a termination of rights situation, I still choose to maintain contact with the family because it was never my hope that they would not be able to care for their daughter/niece/granddaughter so that I could adopt her & never look back. The goal of foster care is never adoption; that is the last resort.

You don't know that I desperately wanted to meet anyone from K'Tyo's extended family so that I could look them in the eye & promise to do my best on their behalf. You don't know that I have spent his two birthdays in our family overwhelmed with grief b/c I wonder if his mother died worrying for her son. I wonder if she ever got to see a birthday. As a mother, it makes my gut ache to think of leaving this earth & missing the chance to see my child grow up, let alone know if they would even be cared for. It sucks.

You don't know that I spent a long time with Kendi's mother on the phone when she was in the hospital, reiterating that I wanted her to make the decision that was best for HER...she owed us NOTHING. You don't know that I did not ask her for permission to go to the hospital because I did not want her to feel any pressure. You don't know that when she wanted to take the baby home for a few days that I supported her when nobody else would. Not only that, I continued to encourage her & tell her to NOT base her decision on us. This wasn't about us. Not for a minute. You don't know that I left all communication during that week up to her to ensure she did not feel any pressure from us because I did not want in any way to influence her decision. You don't know that I long for continued communication with her as Kendi grows up. You don't know that I think of her every single day.

Adoption is messy & originates from loss. Originally, I was going to respond to you in a private email, but I realized that I may have other readers that were offended or that can offer the perspective of an adult adoptee. Quite frankly, I need you. Our oldest 2 daughters were adopted by my husband, & we got it wrong more than we got it right. I did not have the luxury of the worldwide web in those days for information or any BTDT people. I need the perspective of adult adoptees because I want to navigate this road with our adopted children in a way that keeps their needs & feelings in the light. I'm gonna make mistakes, but I want to learn. There's a lot I don't know, & there's a whole lot I can't understand because I haven't lived it. I mean, I don't know if it's right to say birth parent/family, first parent/family, natural parent/family... What is appropriate? I don't feel right celebrating "Gotcha days" that wrong? These are just a couple examples of many things I want to know from your perspective.

I don't need you to agree with every decision I make. I don't even need you to like me. But at least know that you don't really know me. You know bits & pieces that I choose to share & you might choose to judge personal decisions or judge me for my faith. That's your perogative, but here's one thing you can know for sure--My intentions are not to hurt my child by changing his name or be ignorant to the needs of any of my children, including those that have been adopted into our family. I love them fiercely, like lay down my life for them fiercely, but I am fully aware that all the love in the world won't erase the wound of loss. I will continue to give my all, & I welcome the opportunity to connect with & hear from those that know intimately the position of adoptee so that when "my all" falls short, I might learn in order to serve the needs of my children well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Questions Answered

I've had 2 questions recently:

  1. Where have you been??

  2. A new blog friend (Hi, Ruth!) read about our youngest girls' names & wondered about K'Tyo's name...where it comes from, how you say it, & what it means. I couldn't believe I had never blogged about it, but looking back, I can't find a post about it anywhere! I am blaming jet lag after we came home with him for my oversight. :o)

Ok, answer to first question: Trying to keep my head above water! If you've been reading my blog, you know that the hubs is pursuing his doctoral degree. Well, this past Saturday was a big day as the first of 3 major events in this program is now under his belt. Since beginning the program almost 2 years ago, he has been working on a mentorship project, which was presented to an audience of peers, colleagues, & professors. Also necessary was the completion of a ginormous binder (we're talking 6 inches, people) of supporting documents, a 5-page executive summary, a 20+ page integration paper, complete with research & citations, & a power point. Makes me tired just typing such things. The blessing has been that Daddy has modeled hard work & determination to give his best, & it turned into quite the family affair. Kaelee & Kearsten were such a blessing with proofreading, Kam helped retrieve the lost power point (don't ask), Kyler & Kade were rock stars with the littles on a few occasions when needed. And the littles were full of hugs & kisses, which are a wonderful remedy to weariness.

Throw in the start to Kam's basketball season, & you've got the makings for a few weeks of CRAZY! But, we press on. I'm proud of Joe for working so hard. He is a humble man, & not much interested in throwing around titles, but we know God has put a mission in his heart to help people work with wounded children, so this is a necessary step in lending credibility to his work. Not gonna lie, though, when Saturday was over, there was a huge sense of relief & we are very much looking forward to the break!

Now, about K'Tyo's name . . .

K'Tyo's name is pronounced /k/ tie-yo. Honestly, we weren't sure what we were doing about his name before leaving for Ethiopia. For us, it was hard because he was 4 years old at the time, & obviously had quite the personality. All of our children's names begin with a "K", so we wanted to incorporate that somehow (how we got going on K's is still a mystery). His Ethiopian name is Sintayehu, which means "much I have seen" (pretty intense, huh?). We love it's significant meaning, but knew in America it would be butchered. Shoot, it took us forever just to find out how it was being pronounced, & it seems it can be pronounced a couple of ways, but for our son, the end sounded like "Ty-o". Kade came up with the idea of putting a K on the front, & when we met him, suddenly it just worked. It just seemed to fit him, & he latched onto it right away. As a matter of fact, someone called him Sintayehu, & he quickly corrected them. I have no idea if he just liked K'Tyo, if he noticed that everyone else's name sounds the same at the beginning (he is a bit of a smarty pants, so I wouldn't doubt this), or what. As for his middle name, when adopting from Ethiopia & they issue their official papers, they automatically use their Ethiopian name first & then give them the adoptive father's first name as the middle name. I'm not sure how it works for the girls, but that's what happens with the boys. We decided that K'Tyo Joseph had a nice ring to it. Kam happens to be named after Daddy (Kameryn Jo), but she said she didn't mind at all, & it seemed almost fitting that they would share a similar middle name since she is the sibling that traveled to Ethiopia with me to bring him home. So there you have it...great question! Thanks for asking!!

And now, a few pictures from Thanksgiving since I have not posted a thing about it! We had a wonderful day. At the request of the older kiddos, we had Thanksgiving at home this year, & it was a great success. Loved enjoying the day with my husband & children, though we did miss extended family.

The oldest girls helped with desserts, & Kaya was not about to be left out. This is "Pumpkin Dump Cake" & she was able to make it almost all by herself!

I did not have to look far to find reasons to be thankful!

Laughter is the best!!!

And there's really nothing better than sharing a plate of Doritos in your jammies!

What a motley crew!

I would have to say that the next picture is a truer representation of how we roll around here.

Very thankful for this family of mine! I will share some pictures from our outing for the Christmas tree soon!


As a side note, I am honored to have a post on Adeye's blog today. Her heart has been such an inspiration & encouragement to me!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Another Milestone

Last night, I had the privilege of attending the Teacher Induction Ceremony at Ashland University for the 2nd time as a Mom (Kaelee was previously inducted as an early childhood education major). Tonight, it was Kearsten's turn. Basically, after meeting several requirements, students become official education majors in the College of Education.

Kearsten's major is Intervention Specialist, Moderate/Intensive.

We are very proud of her. Daddy was sad to be out of state & unable to attend.

These girls all share the same major & were inducted last night, too.

For fun, we had to get a pic in front of the beautiful Christmas decorations that are already up. My sassy, bossy daughter said we had to pose our arms. Not a word, Dad. I know she gets it fair & square.

Congratulations, KiKi! We can't wait to see where this leads, but know for sure you will make a difference! We love you!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yay for Good News!

Just got the news today that our dossier was logged in in China on 11-14-2011!!

For family & friends unsure of the process, this is a big step. All of our important papers are where they need to be, & we have officially begun the wait for the next big milesone: LOA. Basically, this step will say all is good with our paperwork & we confirm that it is still our intention to officially make Miss Kemeri Abigail our daughter.

I would appreciate prayers for these next steps. The average right now for LOA is 60 days. The next steps after that are fairly consistent in terms of averages. We are praying to come in under the averages so that we can bring Kemeri home before she turns 2. I know God's timing is perfect, but it would be a wonderful thing to celebrate her birthday WITH her!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Me, Adoption, & My Testimony {Part 4b-Kemeri}

I'm sorry this ended up being so long that it needed to be divided, but as this is a journal of sorts for me, I don't like to leave things out. God is in the details, & it helps me tremendously when I can go back to see His hand...looking back tends to give me the courage to go forward.

Such is the case now. I'd love to tell you that this journey has been full of warm fuzzies. It hasn't. This journey has challenged us in many new ways. However, as I look back at each testimony to each of our children, I can see how God has been preparing faith, in surrender, in our family/marriage, in trust, & in OBEDIENCE. In each journey, He took away our preconceived notions of what WE thought we could handle (be it needs or circumstances surrounding situations), & replaced them with our children. And that's what this journey finally came down to. Why would we not trust the Lord in what He's putting on our hearts? He has been faithful; He has blessed this family beyond words. This life is not always easy (ha, just read my Reality Post), but it has brought me to a place of knowing what true joy is.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, & sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary & lose heart." ~Hebrews 12:2-3

Yes, I have had doubtful, fear-filled moments where I grow weary & lose heart. "Lord, life is so crazy right now with Joe in the midst of his doctoral work." "Lord, we are essentially artificially twinning these babies." "Lord, how will I manage traveling to China & leaving Kendi behind...she's still a baby?" "Lord, the money?" "Lord, what if my arms aren't big enough?" "Lord, "things" are so good in our family...what if she doesn't like us?" "Lord, what if....?" One day in my worries & questions, a question came right back at me. "Dardi, what if you weren't going to bring her home?" That feeling of grief that I had when we initially let her file go washed over me all over again. So, when those negative thoughts threaten me, I go back. I go back to what I KNOW (see previous testimonies), I go back to that horrible feeling of loss, & I go back to the TRUTH. God does not choose the equipped; He equips the chosen. This is an entry from my written journal in June:

"When I begin to feel stress, I try to focus on remembering everywhere I've already been in my life b/c when I look, You were always there. So many lessons learned, but so easily forgotten. And how easily I become afraid & doubt the steps I so confidently just took. And then I remember yet again--My life is not my own, & when it feels most uncomfortable are perfect opportunities to seek You."

And God? He has not only brought us to this place, but He goes above & beyond anything we could possibly dream up when revealing Himself in the details. I have a very sweet story of provision, but I'm going to save that for a separate blog post. I want to focus here on a beautifully amazing example of how He gave us a sweet affirmation of this journey to Kemeri right when we needed it.

Our little girl's name given to her by the orphanage folks is Yu Jia. Yu means understanding and awareness; Jia means beautiful woman. According to her paperwork, "giving her this name means the hope for her to be a pretty and sensible woman". In case you didn't know, we had quite a time with what her name might be. First, we needed to find a "K" name we connected with. But even more important was the middle name...God had laid "Joy" on my heart through scripture, but we have a niece with that middle name, so I was struggling. Two-by-four to the backside My "ah-ha" moment: There are names that mean "Joy", & right there it was...Abigail: The source of a father's joy. This was perfect on so many levels. Source of her earthly father's joy, source of THE Father's joy, & even sweeter is that Gail is my mom's middle name! So, on August 1st, we announced that our little girl would be Kemeri Abigail.

Have you ever had a "God moment" that just brought you to your knees? I had one of those on September 29th. I know the exact date b/c I was reading the blog of another adoptive mama who had been wrestling with names, & they had finally chosen Abigail for their newest daughter. She wrote, "Yes, 1 Samuel 23 where it talks about Abigail- she was a beautiful and sensible woman". I could hardly breathe. I even had to pull out Kemeri's referral paperwork to double check, & there it was..."Giving her this name (referring to her Chinese name) means the hope for her to be a pretty & sensible woman." It still leaves me speechless. I did not know these things about Abigail in the bible. But God knew. God knew her name, no matter the language. And He chose in a moment of my weakness to give me that gift of knowing to settle my heart into a state of awe, thankfulness, & anticipation for this daughter He has known all along.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Me, Adoption, & My Testimony {Part 4-Kemeri's Story}

When Kendi came home, we felt so content (blissfully exhausted, but content!). Joe even went so far as to say the word "complete", & I was okay with that. Then sometime after the first of the year, that weird, powerful nudging began again, which made absolutely no sense to me. I was still quite sleep deprived (Miss Kendi likes her middle of the night meetings over a warm bottle) & just trying to keep everyone in clean drawers.

Well, I guess since I was dismissing the nudges, God pulled out some bigger guns. I have enjoyed reading blogs over the last few years b/c I find much encouragement, & it helps me feel connected with others that are traveling similar roads. I especially enjoyed them as Kendi was tiny b/c I wasn't getting out in the winter too much & there's not much I care to watch on t.v. Anyway, suddenly it seemed everywhere I turned, every thing I read, kept putting China SN adoptions in front of my face. Only once did we even glance in the way of adopting from China many years ago after attending a Steven Curtis Chapman concert, but after seeing the requirements & financial aspect, we never glanced that way again b/c we didn't qualify. However, that was years ago when the non-special needs adoptions were at their height, & also when we had never seriously prayed about adoption or felt that "nudge".

Honestly, I was quite perplexed. I came up with every reason under the sun (including the fact that my husband said we were D.O.N.E.) & would go to bed resolved not to give it another thought. And then I would wake up in the morning consumed all over again. Before I knew it, I was a member of a yahoo group that advocates for waiting children, & I would scour that site daily learning about the process, following links that would take me to sites so I could research special needs, & looking at picture after picture of children who wait. And each day my heart was being broken more for these children. Beautiful, innocent, waiting children.

Finally one afternoon, I TEXTED (yes, for real) my husband & said, "What do you think about adopting from China?". People, I got nothin' but silence for 3 HOURS. I just couldn't take it anymore, so I casually (ha) called him to see how his day was going, if he got my text....If I'm being *really* honest, I was kind of looking for the "no" from him so I could just put this whole business to rest once & for all. Yes, he had gotten my text, so I said, "Well, I guess the 3 hours of silence is a 'no' then." He said, "It's not an anything...I've been praying about it." Oh. Have I ever mentioned that I really love this husband of mine?

We decided it was best to continue praying, & he also had a lot of questions. He was under the impression that there was a very long wait b/c he had only heard of the NSN route. He had not heard of the SN program. We also started talking about what special needs we felt we could handle (it was a nice thought, you know, to DECIDE what WE could handle...wouldn't you think by now I would know better? More on this in a bit). After some time, we also felt like we were supposed to "find" our child & not wait for a match. I should have put two and two together when we felt so convicted of this that God had something in mind outside of OUR parameters.

We began looking at some files of children, mostly around Kaya's age, thinking that age may be easier best since Kendi is still a baby. But with every situation, the door seemed to quickly close. There was one little girl we kept going back to...part of her diagnosis (missing digits) was something we felt very comfortable with. However, she had a second diagnosis we had never heard of before. It was a very long, scary looking word which we later learned means spina bifida. She's also only 7 months older than Kendi. Then one day while checking the posts on the advocacy group, one in particular jumped right off the page; it was with regard to this little girl. A woman was advocating specifically for her b/c she had seen her file & had it reviewed. Even though this little girl was not to be theirs, she felt prompted to advocate for her.

I'd love to tell you that we got her file & just jumped right in without another thought. We did get her file, even put it on hold while we had it reviewed by our pediatrician who was having it reviewed by a specialist, & then we got scared & decided not to move forward. I still remember the day we made that decision. I was sitting at the kitchen table while Joe was doing something in the kitchen, & as I typed the email to let the agency know our decision, I cried a horrible, grieving cry. Mind you, we had reviewed other files, but I had not fallen apart like this before.

Over the next several weeks, we reviewed a couple more files & I kept watching for the little one we walked away from to find her way back to the waiting child photolisting (her picture had been taken down when we had locked her file). When it never reappeared, I assumed that someone else had been waiting to see her file & had committed to bringing her home, but I thought of her every day. Then it seemed to become a complete preoccupation...she was on my mind all the time. On the Friday of Memorial weekend, I couldn't help myself. I emailed the coordinator at the agency to see if "Jill's" family had found her. Within an hour she emailed back to tell me that, no, she was still waiting. Upon reading those words, I got the worst case of butterflies ever. What was going on?

After we had released the file, we had discovered an international adoption specialist that reviews files by email. I told Joe what I had done (ok, I texted him again...I'm a goober, but he was at work & I wasn't sure what he would make of any emotional ramblings that I would try to put together to explain), & he agreed that we should send her file to be reviewed so we could at least have a better understanding of this little girl's potential needs. Being that it was a holiday weekend, I thought it might be the next Tuesday before we would hear anything. Umm, no, the doctor called us at 10:00 that night! By the end of the phone call end of the weekend, our hearts knew. We sent off a different email to our agency than before...this one said we have found our daughter & would like to move forward with her adoption.

The phone call from the specialist did not make her needs go away. She is still missing her fingers, & she still has spina bifida. However, we felt we had a better understanding. But even more important, we know that we know that we know that God has woven this child into our hearts. She was no longer a file of a child with a diagnosis...she became our daughter.

To be continued...

Friday, November 11, 2011


**I still have a Part 4 that I am working on, but I have been up to my eyeballs in stuff, & I do believe I am now going to use my dear blog friends to decompress from said stuff!**

Every once in awhile when someone finds out the size of our family, we get the ever-so-cute, "Are you going to have your own reality TV show?"

I am fairly certain that my reality is not TV worthy.

However, it is reality. And today has been one of THOSE days.

First of all, our garage has been full of stuff we need to sell. Yes, I realize it is almost the middle of November. That's why I realized it is really now or never. So in a brilliant move on my part, I scheduled an ad to run in the paper, beginning today, for the sale tomorrow. I figured a deadline would be a good thing. Would have been a great plan except that I forgot that this weekend I am flying solo. Joe left this morning. Dude.

I tried to get some things done today, but not an easy task with a one-year old, mobile child that should have a hurricane named after her. Then, I had Kade's yearly physical on the books. But I can do this. When it was just about time to leave to pick Kade up from school, I came downstairs to find Kaya half undressed, watching TV. Ugh. We were only 5 minutes late to the doctor.

Deep breath. We can do this. Except that while trying to get the kitchen cleaned up so I can cook dinner, the drain in the sink backs up. This never happens. There is now a plunger in my sink.

On to dinner. Breakfast for dinner is a treat, so on the menu was a breakfast casserole & homemade blueberry muffins. I was feeling pretty happy with myself for not getting the cheap muffin mix.

Somehow, I managed to burn those suckers but good. Should have just gotten the cheapy muffin mix.

And this? I am pretty confident no one would find the view of my laundry room entertaining. Well, the random Santa hat in the mix might bring a snicker. Oh, & this is nothing. I'm guessing there's another 3 loads on the floor in the kids' bathroom, & there's 5 loads waiting to be folded in my bedroom. No pictures of that. I do have some personal pride.

And for the finale, we have the garage sale. I've been out there since putting Kendi to bed, freezing my bumpkin off, only to find that the pricing stickers will not stick b/c it's too cold. Of course, it is the middle of November. That must be why there aren't many other garage sale ads competing with mine. Note to self: All those folks that had garage sales in the summer were onto something.

So, what do you think? TV worthy? I didn't think so. I'm just hoping for a better episode tomorrow. And lots of people who like being able to see their breath while they are looking for a bargain. And something hot containing caffeine. The end.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Me, Adoption, & My Testimony {Part 3}

**Warning** This post has the potential to become a bit of a love story.

An interesting thing happened in the midst of our wait for K'Tyo. I got that very antsy feeling in my heart about another child. Say what? I began wondering if we were supposed to be bringing home 2 children from Ethiopia. Finally, I contacted our awesome coordinator & began doing some processing about my feelings. At that point, there was still a possibility to receive another referral, but as time went on, it became apparent that getting another referral was not going to happen. However, THAT feeling was still there. After some further discussion with our coordinator, we opted to be put on the waiting lists (at the time, the agency we were with allowed for this). We did not share this information with anyone because we just really wanted to focus on K'Tyo's homecoming & not take away from that.

I fell hard for Ethiopia. I loved the people. I love my son from there. I was very excited to be going back, & we were steadily moving toward the top of the lists. And then Joe dropped a bomb. This man of mine has never been one to flex his "head of the household" muscles, but he informed me that deep down, he was feeling that our child was here & he really felt like we should remove ourselves from the wait lists. Remember my "here, there, everywhere" comment in my last post? My heart was "there", but Joe was saying "here". Huh? I must admit I was more than a little ticked that God was talking to Joe about these matters! ;)

In Part 1, I mentioned that learning more about my marriage has been part of the testimony. The journey to Kendi was a HUGE time of growth in our marriage. After some prayer, I realized I had a choice to make. I could pitch a fit & get my way (I can pitch a pretty good fit), or I could take a step back & let my husband take the lead. The truth suddenly hit me hard...why would I not trust my husband? His heart is just as invested in following the Lord in this passion for children as my own. And not only that, he is always doing things to make me happy, so why would he come up with some idea of changing direction if he didn't feel strongly that that's what God was calling us to? So, I removed our names from the wait lists & we began working with a private agency in our state.

We have had some people ask us in the past about feeling "the same" about our adopted & biological children. At the risk of sounding mushy or like I am romanticizing this, I can honestly say that even though these children were not conceived by us physically, they were conceived nonetheless. At this point in our journey to Kendi, we still had not told anyone, & we really felt like this was something very special between us...yep, I guess you could say Kendi had become our "love child"! So, we continued to keep it between us.

There were still moments I struggled with not going back to Ethiopia. I struggled with waiting for someone to "choose" our big family with "mature" parents. But God.

In church one Sunday, this verse was part of the sermon:

"The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help." ~1 Timothy 5:5

Lightbulb...I had just read something that referenced today's single mother as the modern-day widow. I began praying in earnest, wondering if this was the type of situation God had been breaking Joe's heart for. In less than a week, the answer was yes. Have you ever noticed, though, that God tends to go above & beyond as He answers prayers? This time was no exception. Not only did He bring our hearts as one for this birth mother & her child that was also our child, but He used this birth mother to convict me of another truth. I had been convinced that no birth mother would choose our family due to it's size (I mean, that's what all the adoption experts say...birth mothers typically want smaller families) & the fact that we are older more mature, so I figured we were waiting for an emergency situation where the birth mother would leave the choice of families to the agency. We were open to a variety of needs, so sooner or later we would be next in line. But God.

This birth mother CHOSE us out of several profiles. I do not say this boastfully. As a matter of fact, I am still quite humbled. Through this birth mother, God reminded me that our family is just the way HE intended for it to be. I love this big, beautiful family the Lord has blessed me with, & there is to be NO shame in that! But that's not the end of this birth mother blessing us... we had the opportunity to meet, & she proceeded to tell us, "I did not know what I was going to do. I was praying to God every night." Just like the verse He gave me. Beyond humbling.

Yes, indeed, this journey to Kendi was very much a love story, but not just Dardi & Joe's love story. It's God's love story. God loves His children so much that He never leaves them where they are. Status quo can be good, but He used an adoption journey to say, "You're marriage can be even your capacity to love more children can grow, so can your capacity to love & trust each other." God is just cool like that.

Kendi Hope

Monday, November 7, 2011

Me, Adoption, & My Testimony {Part 2}

As mentioned in Part 1, I was learning to trust God with my everything. That includes *my* plans. As Kaya's adoption day drew nearer, we had that undeniable desire to adopt another child. However, WE wanted the road to our next child to be easier. Don't laugh...I know that "easy" & "adoption" do not go together, but this mama was emotionally spent from the roller coaster we'd just endured for 2+ years, so I was hoping for something a little less taxing.

Now that we had gone back to babyhood, we were thoroughly enjoying it. So, we got in touch with an agency about adopting an infant transracially. I filled out the paperwork. But then it sat. Finally, Joe asked me what was up b/c this chick does not leave paperwork just sit. I remember something didn't feel right. I was carrying out my plan, but was it God's plan? We knew that we were to adopt again, but were we headed in the right direction?

I believe one of the first things I began learning with this adoption was how to listen. It's so easy to get going full steam ahead & forget who is supposed to be steering. Finally, I did that dreaded surrender And prayed.a.lot. God has definitely taken His time answering prayers along the way, but in this instance, I think He was waiting for me to ask, & didn't hesitate to answer (I sort of see Him going, "Finally...."). Within a few days, we were staring at a picture of K'Tyo on our computer screen. I remember Joe saying, "Can we actually get to him?" Some of our experiences had shown us that just because a child was on a photolisting didn't mean that you were going to be able to pursue them as your child. And, really? This was an international adoption situation. We didn't think we would EVER do anything internationally (do you see a pattern forming?). I mean, where do you begin with the paperwork? And the finances. Then there's travel. And the finances. There's little background information on this child. And the finances.

But God.

Was this "easy"? I don't know if that's the right word, but it was as if we were just being "swept" thing led to another & then to another. We just kept getting affirmations that we were doing what we were supposed to, & everything kept falling into place, including the finances. There were definitely some emotional moments, but anything involving the heart is emotional. From beginning (we had NOTHING done for an international adoption) to K'Tyo coming home was slightly less than 7 months...crazy!

I learned much about the heart of God during this adoption. First, I became very aware of life outside my "comfort zone". God does not have the same dividing lines for this earth that we create. Ever heard, "We need to take care of 'our own'"? No. God calls us to love one another. Period. He doesn't say love those that look like you & live in your country. He says love one, there, everywhere.

I also became very aware that God really does have the best for me, even when there were times it didn't seem like it. As we were waiting for a court date, there was a group of families that were all due together. Post after post starting coming in from these families on our yahoo group about receiving a court date, but I had heard nothing. When I saw a call coming in from our coordinator, I thought certainly it was about us having a court date, too. Instead, she was calling very apologetic b/c for some reason, our paperwork had been left behind. I was sad, but at least knew our paperwork was ok & should be in the next round of court dates. When I got the call about our court date, I was scheduled for my birthday. I thought that was just the best present ever! And then we didn't pass court. I'm not gonna lie...I was crushed. I felt like I had the rug pulled out from under me. It was my birthday, for goodness sake! It wasn't until a few weeks later when we would have been traveling that I realized God gave me the best present ever by NOT letting us pass court on my birthday. We would have been stuck in Europe in the midst of the ash cloud chaos. I know it was not an easy situation for anyone involved, but for us, it would have been devastating. Financially, we could not have handled being stuck out of country, but even more important, Joe would have been beside himself with worry b/c he stayed behind while Kameryn & I went. God was in the details, & I became very aware that my perspective is not His.

As I mentioned with Kaya, I learned much about finding strength & courage in the Lord. This journey brought to life, "With God, all things are possible." We learned about stepping outside the box of conformity to follow God's will for our family. We learned about stepping out of the boat to follow Him, even if that meant traveling over 8000 miles across the ocean to bring home a son. We have come to the realization that God desires for us to live our lives following's an adventure, & all we have to do is say "yes". Is it easy? No. Scary? Sometimes. Glamorous? No. Worth the blood, sweat, & tears? You better believe it!

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will." ~Romans 12:2