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New Birth Certificates

I'm interrupting the posts on our trip to announce some VERY BIG news! We have the boys' new birth certificates! We got them on Tuesday of this week. This is a huge step because now our agency can apply for their passports, which will be followed by a medical exam, everything will be translated, then it will all be submitted to the US Embassy who will review our case and then clear us for travel. 

Here they are (or at least a portion of them)! Notice their new names and the names of their mother and father- so precious to see this in print and on an official document! If you notice the different years, it's because Ethiopia goes by a different calendar- they are 8 years behind us. They also tell time differently. Time begins when the sun rises, so 1:00 is always the first hour of the day. Interesting, huh?

This is also a VERY big deal because it normally takes awhile for the birth certificates to come in and ours came in relatively quickly. I had been praying that we would get them on the 29th and had even marked that date on my calendar as the day I was hoping for (I had calculated the fastest time I had ever seen them processed and began praying for that date). Thank you, Lord! It doesn't feel so far away anymore and things are really moving along! Please pray that the passports come in soon and that the rest of this process will be QUICK. I'm asking the Lord to have them home by their birthday on the 19th of July, but much sooner (like maybe the first week of July) would also be appreciated!

In honor of our good news, here's a few clips of video that we took of the boys in Ethiopia. Please ignore my obnoxious laughing and incessant questions of Don while he was taping ("Are you getting this? Are you getting this?"- the WORST part of home videos is hearing yourself in them!!) Password: boys


Ethiopia Days 3 & 4

Our 3rd day in Ethiopia was Monday, our court date. Our original appointment was scheduled for 9:30, but at about 9:00 we learned that it had been moved to 1:30. Apparently there was a new judge, and Monday was her first day so she moved all of the court times to the afternoon. We were already ready for the day, so we decided to walk out into the city on our own. The night before we had gone out for pizza, but one of the guards from our hotel had walked us there and had walked us back after we were done. It was night, and I was glad he accompanied us... both to help us find the restaurant and to ward off any potential pick-pocketers. 

This time it was morning and we felt pretty comfortable walking around on our own. Honestly, it went totally fine and we never felt threatened, but at the same time it was exhausting. It was hard to walk down the street and get even 5 yards without someone approaching you asking for money. The hardest part was that we knew that most of them probably needed the money... it was obvious. So, with each person, we had to quickly either walk away or determine what to give and how much to give (we actually started carrying food in our pockets for this very purpose). Once you give something to one person, you become an even bigger target. It was hard. After only an hour or so I was ready to go back to the peace and quiet of our guest house. One of the good things about this outing though was that we finally found a spot with wireless internet so that we could email our families. Prior to this, we had no ability to access our phones or internet at all. The restaurant was called Kabu Coffee, and they had great French fries and burgers (and Coke, in a bottle, no ice). (See how adventurous we are!). Blah, blah, blah... boring, boring, boring. On to the good stuff. 

Finally, FINALLY the time came for us to be picked up for our court appointment. We drove to the court house and it kind of reminded me of a secretary of state office here. There were a bunch of people waiting in the waiting room, most of them for adoptions. Our agency had a representative there with us who was supposed to be our advocate in case anything happened (which it didn't). We waited until the name of the orphanage where the boys were first placed was called and then we headed back into the room. The judge was there, along with maybe two other people (not sure what they were doing). She asked us a series of questions, some about our process and if we had learned about Ethiopian culture and if we intended to teach our sons about Ethiopian culture. Really long and yes and yes. 

The most poignant part of the interview was when she asked if we had seen the boys, if we wanted to adopt them, and if we knew that adoptions in Ethiopia are irrevocable. Of course the answers were Yes, Yes, and Yes! After that, she stamped a paper and said, "Gebremedhin and Gebremeskel are yours forever." I was fighting back tears and really wanted to go up and hug her and thank her again and again, but she was pretty unemotional about the whole thing, so I figured it'd be better not to push my luck and do something out of protocol. The whole thing took about 5 minutes. 5 of the most significant minutes of our lives. 

Right after that we went back to the care center and picked up the boys. When we got in the van, Jacob (formerly Gebremedhin) looked outside of the door at one of the nannies that was standing nearby and burst into tears. My heart broke for a moment because I knew he was scared. I wondered if he was remembering that just a few days earlier he and his brother had gotten in a similar van and were taken from the only people and home they had ever known. I held him in close and prayed that God would comfort his little heart, and within probably less than a minute he stopped crying. He's a very happy boy and had already begun smiling and checking everything out.  

As soon as we got back to our guest house, we stripped the boys down into their diapers. It was super hot and they were sweating through the tons of layers they were dressed in. Immediately they started to crawl around the floor and we handed them toy after toy... they were much more interested in crumpling the wipes container and trying to access the electrical cords! We had so much fun with them. So much fun. And we just smiled and laughed the entire time. We adored everything about them and had so much fun just watching them and observing their personalities and how they interacted with us and with each other. 

The highlight of the night was the bath. They LOVED it. They splashed like crazy and smiled and laughed the entire time. They would try to stand up and I would place them back down on their booties, and they would crawl all over each other. It was a slippery, wet mess, and definitely a two person job! And we loved every second of it. 

Josiah fell asleep around 6:30 and Jacob around 7:30. At about 8:30, Josiah woke up for the first of many times. We gave him a bottle, held him, rocked him, kissed him, and thanked God for him. When he finally fell asleep, Jacob woke and we did the same thing with him. Don would make the bottles and then we'd pass them off between the two of us until they fell back asleep. 

Honestly, we were so happy when they woke up because we just wanted to be with them. And since they were waking up at separate times, we had undivided attention to give to them. We probably only slept a couple of hours the first night and neither of us minded one bit! I'll never forget holding them through the night and thinking how there was nothing in the world that I would rather do. I sensed how much they were a gift from God and I loved every second of being able to delight in them and praise God for them in those quiet hours of the night. 

The next day was more of the same... playing in our hotel room, trying to figure them out, and just showering them with love and affection. 


Ethiopia: Days 1 & 2

In an effort to remember all of the important details of one of the happiest weeks of our lives, I'm going to chronicle the whole trip... a couple days at a time.

We flew out of Chicago on Friday afternoon and arrived in Addis Ababa on Saturday night. Ethiopia is 8 hours ahead of us, and we had a brief stop in both Amsterdam and Sudan, which added a few hours to our overall trip. Next time we'll fly Ethiopian Air for a more direct and shorter route. 

We got in on Saturday night around 9:00 pm and since it was dark, we weren't able to see much of the city. Our driver from our adoption agency picked us up at the airport and brought us to our guest house (kind of a mix between a hotel and a home). We asked him to come back first thing in the morning so that we could go to the care center to see our boys. I think our exact words were, "How early is too early?". We knew we wouldn't sleep much, and we were ANXIOUS to get our hands on the boys!

So, he came the next morning around 9:00 to take us to the center. The drive there was really interesting. There are no traffic laws in Ethiopia, no lanes on most roads, and no police that patrol the streets. Pretty much anything goes, with cars weaving in and out of each other. It's super chaotic and you would think there would be tons of accidents, but there really aren't. People drive slower and are less aggressive and more courteous, so they make it work. 

The drive to the care center took 15-20 minutes, and I could tell when we were getting close because we pulled down this dirt alley and started slowing down. As the car slowed down, our hearts began to race! Our driver rang for the gate to be opened and one of the nannies came to get us. She walked us through one large room with lots of babies in it over to a smaller room across the hall. Immediately when we walked in, we saw Jacob standing up in his pack-n-play looking at us. I think I said, "There he is." and started to cry. The nanny in his room picked him up and handed him to me, and I kept looking at him and saying, "Hi, Baby." I was trying to hold back tears and not scare him by crying and it was the only thing I could think to say at the time. 

We saw that Josiah was sleeping in the crib next to him, so we took a little time looking in on him while he slept, and then decided to let him sleep while we took Jacob in the hallway to play with him. We played with Jacob for about 15 minutes (basically watched him crawl up and down the hallway and up the stairs the whole time) before Josiah woke up. When they were both awake, we took both of them into the hallway and passed them back and forth between the two of us. We absolutely marveled and delighted in everything about them. 

We spent about 5 hours at the care center on Sunday, mainly playing with and holding our boys, but also taking pictures for other adoptive families and hanging out with some of the older children at the care center. It was a perfect day. We loved our boys, we loved the other children at the care center, we loved the nannies and were so grateful for the love and affection that they show to the children. All of the children were well cared for and well loved and it was a blessing to be even a small part of it for a day. 

We don't know what it's like to experience the natural love you feel for a biological baby, but I can attest to a very natural love that we felt for our boys. When we saw them, there was absolute DELIGHT in them and LOVE for them. It was the consummation of years and years of waiting and praying for children and then specifically almost 6 months of praying earnestly and specifically for them. We had stared at their pictures and watched little videos of them from thousands of miles away, and finally we were with them, holding them in our own arms. When we walked in and saw them, our hearts almost burst. We didn't have to convince ourselves to love them or to delight in them, it was just there in abundance. I can't remember many other times of such intense emotion- love, thankfulness to God, delight, overwhelming joy, and fullness. A day we'll never, never forget. 


Our Sons

We passed court last Monday for our sons, Jacob Benjamin Jones (formerly Big Guy) and Josiah Samuel Jones (formerly Little Guy). Here they are:

Josiah is on the left, Jacob on the right. 

Jacob on the left and Josiah on the right. 

We feel so blessed and thankful that God has entrusted these boys to us. They are perfect for us! I plan on posting more details about the trip, but for now, I'll post a little about the boys. 


  • Smiles all the time
  • Has eyes that sparkle
  • Loves to be around people 
  • Loves to eat
  • Has a little bit of a strong will
  • Wants to be in on the action and would get jealous if we were paying too much attention to Josiah; if Josiah was being held, he wanted to, too!
  • Crawls super fast and is very close to walking
  • Already gives kisses, especially to Josiah
  • Likes music and will even dance and clap to it
  • Is an acrobat! He has amazing balancing skills, and will stand on his skinny little legs without anything to help him balance
  • Walks if he has something to hold onto, like the couch or the edge of a table
  • Gets into everything! If you take your eyes off him for a second, he's off doing something dangerous!
  • Loves to be held and snuggled
  • Plays independently- doesn't really need you to interact with him or watch him the way Jacob does
  • Scrunches his entire face in the cutest way when he smiles 
  • Has the sweetest pink nails and toes and undersides of his feet... they are so pink and look just adorable with his dark skin
  • Is impossible to dress!
  • Has incredible coordination! Do all 9-10 month old babies know how to clap their hands perfectly together? 
Both boys:
  • Love, love, love the bathtub! They smile and laugh and splash like crazy. The only time they really cried the whole time we were with them was when we took them out of the tub on our last night. They were only in for a minute when one of the boys had an "accident" in the tub, causing us to whisk them out very quickly when they had just gotten started on their splashing frenzy. 
  • Prefer spoons, diaper wipes, sunglasses, and prescription drug containers to any real toys
  • Have super long, curly eyelashes and thick, pouty lips
  • Have happy dispositions and will smile easily; they really are delightful... almost never whine or cry and are easily comforted when they do become upset
We love them like crazy and can't wait to have them home with us for good!!


And, We're Off

The day has finally come... we're ready to leave. 

In a couple of days, we will hold our sons in our own arms. 

In a couple of days, Lord willing, they will no longer be orphans, "owned" by the government of Ethiopia; they will be Joneses.