Home           About Us           Why Adopt?           Why Ethiopia?           Noonday Collection           Contact Us


Medical Exams (and REPORTS): Received!

We got the email today- both of the medical reports have already been completed for our twins! Thank you, Lord!

Honestly, this is a miracle. We expected 1-2 weeks to get an appointment with the doctor and then another 1-2 weeks to actually receive the report, and here we are at 1.5 weeks and we already have both!

The next step is to get all of the documents translated and then we will be submitted to Embassy. We're hoping that this can happen in the next 1-2 weeks. After that, the Embassy will review our case and (Lord willing) clear us to travel in 2-6 weeks (longer if they require additional information).

Thank you for praying and please continue! I really feel like we are flying through this last stage on the wings of many of your prayers. 

We're coming boys! (p.s. Jacob learned to prop up some blankets in the corner of the pack-n-play so that he could stand on them and reach his arm an inch more over the edge. We're going to have to keep our eye on him!)


A Story in Pictures

Since we couldn't share any pictures until after we passed court, I realized that we haven't ever shared the pictures that we've been seeing this whole time. So, here's the story in pictures, starting from our referral in November. 

First picture of Jacob. We thought he was perfect. 

First picture of Josiah: equally perfect. 

Little angels. 

Little rascals. 

Jacob, a few weeks after our referral pictures. 


Both boys with the first care package we sent them in early December. 

Second care package later in December. I love how they are so snuggled up in these pictures. 

They are actually wearing the pajamas we sent and playing with the blocks we sent. So fun to see!

Already a happy, smiley baby!

Sweet Josiah. 

In January, when our friends, the Crandells, were in Ethiopia. 

Gigantic eyes and sweet little lips. 

One of our favorites of Jacob from early January. 

Josiah in late January. 

Sleeping babies- late January. 

Picture draught... nothing for several weeks.  

Josiah in mid March. 

Then we traveled in May- many of those pictures have already been posted. 

The Crandells visiting our boys a couple of weeks ago. They captured both boys walking on video- what a gift! 

As usual, Jacob was smiling constantly and was giggling too much to even concentrate on walking. Such a happy boy!

Josiah is a smiler, too- it just takes a little more effort!

And here are the new pictures we just got today. 

Even though we didn't get to see most of these stages in person, I'm so thankful for EVERY picture and video that we've gotten of them over the past 7 months. And even though the required trip to Ethiopia for court meant a lot of added expense and a terrible goodbye, I'm also thankful that we got to see them crawling and acting like baby-babies before they entered this new walking/toddling phase. Plus, we got to kiss them and snuggle them part-way through the process and that's worth every penny!

Can't wait to kiss those sweet cheeks (x2) again soon!


Passports: Received!

We found out yesterday that the boys' passports are completed. Now we wait for a medical exam, the doctor's report, translation, and then finally submission to the US Embassy. 

We're getting closer! Their first birthday is exactly one month away- please pray with us that either we'll be there with them or they'll be home with us by that time!


The (Almost) Complete Story

Here is a video that Don put together of our trip to Ethiopia. It starts with our months of waiting, then packing and preparing, our time in Ethiopia, and then some clips of our time with the boys. It's about 6 minutes long and has music. Enjoy!

Now we just need to add their homecoming to the end of the video. Please, Lord, let it be soon!

Password: Boys

First Father's Day

Happy 1st father's day to my amazing husband! I can't think of anyone more loving, more sacrificial, more selfless, or more fun! I'm so thankful to have him as a husband and as the father to our sons. He's going to be so good at raising little men! 

I'm sure these 3 are going to have lots of great adventures together! 


Ethiopia Days 7 & 8

Thursday night the boys stayed with us, so Friday morning they were up and ready to go bright and early! One of our favorite things to do while the boys were with us was letting them wake each other up. Usually one would get up a little earlier than the other and we'd spend some one-on-one time with that one. Then, when the other little guy started stirring, we'd put his brother on the side of the bassinet and let him do the final "waking up". It was so funny. They love each other so much! Jacob reserves most of his kisses for Josiah and will try to open- mouth kiss anything he can reach: Josiah's face, his back, whatever is closest!

Friday morning in the courtyard outside of our guest house. "Okay, boys, sit here and smile!"

Or not. 

On Friday afternoon, we took a couple of hours to go to Mt. Entoto. We were able to stop at the bottom of the mountain to visit a place where they make scarves and baskets. They even let me try my hand at the loom- my teacher was very patient and I hope I didn't mess up his scarf too much!

This was at the top of Mt. Entoto with our guides. This is the location of the first orthodox church and the first emperor's home. 

From the top of the mountain, you can look down on the entire city of Addis. 

This is one of the wood carriers. Many women walk all the way up and down the mountain in order to get wood for their families down at the bottom of the mountain. They carry these gigantic bundles on their back! 

When we got back from our day trip, we tried to muscle the boys into their flannel shirts and jeans. We wanted to get a few good pictures of them and possibly a family shot. It was fairly successful, though Don exclaimed at one point, "He's too strong for me!" as Josiah weaseled his way out of Don's grasp and reach while trying to dress him. 

Here are two of the wonderful guys that worked at our guest house. They were so helpful and loved our boys! 

The next morning was Saturday, our final day in Ethiopia with the boys. "Mom, stop with all the kisses already!"

Last attempt at a family picture. Thankfully the camera had a blinking light and beep sound that caused enough interest that both boys were at least looking at the camera at the same time!

Getting ready to ride back to the care center. We look happier than we are. I spent most of the morning crying and the entire car ride to the care center crying. There was another family riding with us to the care center; they were meeting their children for the first time. At various times they would turn around in the van to talk to us and I was always crying, which felt a little awkward. Finally, I just said, "I'm okay, but I'll probably cry the whole way there."

When we got to the care center, we basically just walked in, handed the boys off to their special nanny, kissed them a few more times, and then headed straight for the van. Don reminded me that God was caring for them; that he had been caring for them this whole time and he would continue to do so. He was a rock, and I'm so thankful for his continued leadership in our family and the way he tenderly and sacrificially cares for me and the boys!

That night we headed home via a stop in Sudan and then Amsterdam before finally landing in Chicago. It felt good to be home in the, "clean water, soft bed, normal food, air conditioning" kind of way, but we left half of our family in Ethiopia and we miss our babies like crazy!  


Ethiopia Day 6

On Thursday, we had intended to take a day trip to see the gorge in Ethiopia (they say it's bigger than the Grand Canyon). Unfortunately, on Wednesday night, Don got really sick with giardia (Montezuma's revenge). We're not sure if it was from something he ate or if he had somehow swallowed some water. Either way, he was up most of the night and spent almost all day Thursday in the bathroom or lying down. Thankfully, we had brought a prescription in case either of us got sick, and once Don started taking it he felt better and soon was back to normal. It lasted about 30 hours total.  

Since we couldn't go to the gorge, I got a ride to the care center and picked up the boys and brought them back to our hotel. 

Thursday was a challenging day. We still loved every minute of it, but it was one of those days that we felt like, "If we can handle this, we can handle anything!". 

I'll condense it down to some bullet points:
  • Don was sick and out of commission. He would sometimes lay on the floor and let the boys crawl around him, but he really couldn't do much of anything. He was such a trooper and tried to help as much as he was able but he felt terrible the whole time. 
  • The boys have some kind of stomach thing going on and needed their diapers changed close to every hour. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say, of the 45ish diapers we used in the short time we had them, only 2 were "just wet". Thank you, Pampers, for containing all of the other "explosions". 
  • The room was hot. No air conditioning. No open windows except in the bathroom which we think was supposed to help with the constant sewage smell. This open window also allowed lots of mosquitoes to invade our room at night. We would lay in bed and hear them buzz in our ears.
  • There was a giant stack of dirty diapers that we had nowhere to go with for a long time, so they also were causing quite a stench in the room. (Later we learned to leave them outside our door and then take them down to the main lobby to throw them away in the hotel's main garbage area). 
  • We were in a hotel room. All day. No place to go outside, no going for walks, just the four walls of our room to stare at. All day. All night. Actually, for a change of scenery, we sat in the stairway of the hotel and let them crawl up and down the stairs just so we could get out of our room. 
  • We had no high chairs or any other way to contain the boys. This wasn't so bad for the boys because we could just feed them bottles or have them eat sitting on the floor in front of us. It was bad for us because we had no way to safely contain them so that we could get a break to eat.  I think I ate a half a pop-tart for lunch and dinner that day. 
  • We were making bottles with bottled water, but we couldn't refrigerate anything so we couldn't really make them too much in advance. We lost power once in the night and Don mixed up the bottles using the light from our cell phone. We also couldn't really clean the bottles very well because we were rinsing them in our bathroom sink and had no soap to use. 
  • There's probably more, but I'm sure you can imagine why this was difficult... 
I hope this doesn't sound like complaining (maybe it does?). We still had so much fun with them and were so glad they were with us. We were exhausted at the end of it, but it was the good kind of exhausted you feel when you know you've spent yourself in the best possible way. They took naps on and off during the day and then slept on and off again at night.  Between the two of them, we didn't sleep much. Maybe 2 hours total? That might be generous. 

We still love, love, loved it. And I'm not just saying that. We knew our time with them was limited, so in some ways even the hard parts felt easy. We also knew that in a couple of days we would have to leave them again and we wouldn't be able to hold them in the night or change their diapers or feed them rice cereal or watch them crawl around... you get the idea.  

Earlier on (like months ago) we had talked about taking one last camping trip before the boys came home; we figured tent camping with two babies would be much too difficult. Both of us agreed, however, that after getting used to caring for them in a less than ideal situation, camping doesn't sound so hard, and home seems like it's going to feel like luxury! Clean water for drinking and making bottles, warm water in a clean shower and tub for bathing, cribs that are tall enough and big enough to contain children, no mosquitoes or roaches pestering us at night, a dish washer, a washing machine, high chairs, strollers, being able to go for walks, the list goes on and on...


Ethiopia Day 5

On Wednesday, we went to visit the child that we sponsor through Compassion International. We had to bring our boys back to the care center on Tuesday afternoon because we couldn't take them with us on the Compassion tour. So, on Tuesday night we actually got some sleep, and then we left first thing Wednesday morning. 

Compassion has many sites throughout Addis and throughout Ethiopia. There are thousands of children in their program. It took about 20 minutes to get to the Compassion site, and when we got there our little guy (Yabsira) was waiting outside the gate for us with his mom and the director of the site. In the 15 years that this site has been operating, only 4 families have come to visit, so it was a pretty big deal for them. It was a big deal for us, too. 

Right away, Yabsira gave us both huge hugs and kissed our cheeks. I didn't think I would get emotional, but I started to cry when I saw him. Then the compassion director took us through the building and explained all about the ministry. It was obvious that this man really loved the Lord, loved his job, and loved the children. We learned that he had been part of the underground church when Ethiopia was under communism. He really was a fascinating man! We had some time to talk through a translator with our sponsor child and his mother and then we went to Yabsira's home. It was only a short drive away. Actually, all of the children in the program have to be within walking distance because they don't have cars or other forms of transportation. We had a van, so we all piled in and drove to their house. 

This is our guide and the director of the Compassion site. Our guide, as I mentioned before, was formerly sponsored through the Compassion program. He earned a scholarship to college through Compassion and now has a veterinary degree. (Unfortunately, in Ethiopia the government chooses your major, so even though he wanted to study medicine for people, he was forced to study medicine for animals. This wouldn't be so bad if there was a need for veterinarians in Ethiopia; there isn't. People don't have pets and they certainly don't pay money to care for animals. We had an interesting discussion about the differences between Ethiopia  and America in that regard! He said he saw a video in one of his classes that showed an animal hospital in America and he commented that it was nicer than the hospitals that they have in Ethiopia for people). That's a little shameful, don't you think?! More importantly, our guide told us that the best thing about his experience with Compassion is that he met Jesus.

These pictures are of their home. Our sponsor child's mother did a traditional coffee ceremony for us, which includes roasting fresh coffee beans over a fire. Then she ground the roasted beans by hand, walked to the community pump for water, boiled it over the fire, and then made us fresh coffee. It was delicious and a very gracious gesture. She invited a few of her neighbors to join us and we all sat and drank coffee together. Don played soccer outside with Yabsira and a friend, and at one point, Yabsira asked if he could come home with us. Yabsira got a little mad that his friend was encroaching on his time with Don, plus his soccer ball was getting dirty (he had wanted to keep it tucked away in their home to keep it clean). There was a little stand that sold candies nearby and he asked if we would buy him one; we were happy to! As soon as he had it in his hands, all of the Ethiopian adults nearby told him to share it with everyone around him, including us. We wanted him to keep and enjoy the whole thing for himself, but that's not the way they do things there. If you have something, you share it with everyone. 

There's so much more I could say about this day and the conditions of this little village, but I kind of hesitate to write much about it because I want to be careful not to exploit them in any way and I don't want to puff us up at all. There are two main reasons that I'm posting about this: one, it was part of our trip and an experience we will never, never forget; outside of meeting the boys, I think this day will go down as one of the more significant days of our lives; two, I really hope it encourages more people to consider sponsoring a child. 

Honestly, being there opened our eyes to the reality of poverty at a whole new level. People in Yabsira's community live on less in a year than most of us spend on a week of groceries. The whole time we were with them, I kept being struck by how much we've been given in America and what a great responsibility (and privilege) we have because of it. 

Prior to this trip, despite sending and receiving letters and pictures, I felt somewhat disconnected from Yabsira. Being there, I realized how significant these sponsorship programs are--they literally change people's lives. The children in the program receive additional education, they are taught the gospel, they are given food and basic necessities; they are given a chance at a life. They wouldn't have this chance otherwise. They could work really hard in school and still end up walking the streets hoping that someone will let them shine their shoes in exchange for a few coins. 

If you're interested, Compassion International is a great, reputable organization. We were SO impressed by them and have absolutely no concerns about recommending them. Lifesong for Orphans also has a great sponsorship program, and it's only $20 a month.  

The video below shows some random shots from our day; at one point, Don is trying to toss Yabsira. Yabsira had never done this before and was afraid to let go. Sweet boy. Password: compassion