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Gotcha Day

I actually felt organized this morning while we got ready to head to the orphanage, my diaper bag all packed.  Donations packed.  Today was the day!  The big day.  The reason one whole suitcase was filled with 2T clothes, diapers, baby wash…



Fekadu picked us up, and we drove down the road.  When we pulled into the heavy metal gate, we saw some women there hanging onto the porch railing and when they saw us, they lit up and started waving, leaning down to see our faces in the car window.

It is such a different experience from our last adoption.  We are welcomed, there is life and warmth here, happiness for the children.  Sister Letti kisses us on the cheeks three times, and told us, “Just a moment, she’s just getting ready.”

I walk outside.  There are two girls, maybe ages 7 and 5, pacing up and down the cement walk, each holding a hand made book in their hands, inches from their face as they walk slowly up and down.  I look closer and they are filled with pictures with smiling faces, handwritten, “Mommy,” under a kind looking woman, a picutre of a family dog, other children, smiling back at the girls holding their books like their most precious treasure.  These must have been given to them by families soon to be adopting them, these two chosen girls.  Older, yet chosen by these families.  The girls touch the pages gently with their fingers, turning them softly over and over while they walk in their tattered dresses.   The older girl is showing some of the adults, pointing to her book as they drink tea and share bread, they smile and she runs off to be alone, walking with her book just inches from her face.

They bring Poppy down and it seems like she just woke up.  She walks into our arms and sits.


The staff, men and women sweetly call her name, blowing her kisses.  Ethiopians know how to love.  We see our friend’s son, he is 11 and they are waiting on extended medicals for he and his sister.  “Your parents are coming soon,” I tell him.  He smiles.  The men and women all have their arms around him, he is well loved, gentle and kind.  So much goodness for everyone involved.

Sister Letti gives us her medication, and invites us to a coffee ceremony, “So we can celebrate, say goodbye and cry together with joy.”

And…we’re off.  With our Russian adoption, there seemed to be fear and escape involved as disapproving people watched us go in a hurry.  This was just calm, and a kind goodbye, people waved us off.

We tell Fekadu we want to go to Lucy, even though it’s early, we’d been up since 3am and we were ready to eat.  It is empty except for some staff, and tortoises.  People here love children, Ethiopians will hold her hand, and say sweet things to her.



When our food came, Fekadu offered to hold her so we could eat, but she held onto me.

“Mommy’s girl,” he smiled.

“It’s ok, Fekadu, I have 4 kids, multitasking is the one thing I’m good at.”  She sat quietly on my lap as we ate.  It’s so different, little girls, from little boys.  Our boys would have completed a 5k around this place causing minor (major) destruction in the time she sat sweetly, smiling at us.



We walked around the garden, the sounds of a city filled with people walking, eating, sharing bread on the street in the air.



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When we got home, we played with some toys.  She sat, peacefully and loved the rings and bag they came in.  We played for a long time, just sitting.  Girls are so different than boys, that was my theme for the day… I may mention it again.

I got her ready for a bath.  Our room comes with a huge, luxury tub that I filled with warm water and baby soap, it smelled so good.  I picked up her cute self, about to put her in the ankle deep water, but she picked her feet up and held onto me.  She didn’t want her toes to touch the water, maybe this was her first ever bath in a tub.  We poured out the toys, and she reached down, touching the water, and retracting her hands.  And again.  She splashed it a little bit, and squealed.  Then she stood in the water, and I had her sit.  She splashed and smiled up at me, a look of wonder on her face.


We washed her with a wash cloth, and then she held it herself and rubbed her tummy with bubbles, looking at us, “Like this?”  Such a sweet helper.  I took out her braids so we could wash her hair, and she looked like a sweet elf.  She would have stayed in the bath all day once she knew it was cozy, warm and fun.



The more attention we give her, the more alive she becomes.  She loves reaching for us, being held, having us rub her back or feet.  Cutest little toes.



She put on her, (WHAT!?) so cute jammies and we brushed teeth.  I don’t think having her teeth brushed was easy for her, but she was a sport, and we let her try herself afterwards.


“Mama, I’m  pro.  I like personal hygenie, I promise I will try to teach my brothers about it…” -direct quote, lookout boys.



She didn’t want to eat lunch, she just wanted her sippy cup of water.  Once she learned to drink from it, she was hooked and drank and drank, never letting it go.  I remember when picking up the kids from Russia, we had this sense of mild panic, they were so skinny, so neglected.  We felt a huge need to immediatly give them vital care.

With Poppy, that fear is not present.  I started to rock her, and she melted into me, gazing up into my eyes, and put her chubby little hand on mine, as if saying, “My mama.”  She blinked deeply as I sang over her, and fell right asleep.  This was a first for me in motherhood, immediate sleep with one song?  Heavens be praised.   We tucked her into her crib with her huge, pink comfort silkie and she slept for a couple hours, warm, clean, cozy, loved.




When she woke up, she wanted mama and we sat together for a long time.  Fekadu invited us to dinner with friends, but we had to decline so we could stay in.  We got her dressed, played toys and marveled at her sweetness.  There are no words to describe it.







Livin the life, two sippies.




At dinner, we were super popular.  It may have just been Poppy.  The staff loved her, stroking her arms.  She would look away, or look to us, but knew she was cool ;)

Everything made her happy, she loved feeding herself.  She ate cauliflower, steamed spinach and noodles.  Bread and babyfood squeezies are unacceptable and will be thrown on the ground.

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She didn’t want anything until she tried cauliflower roasted in butter.  If she gets crumbs in her hands, she holds them out to us to have them wiped.  Andrew gave her the yolk of a hard boiled egg, which was also unacceptable, and she held out her tongue to us in panic to have it wiped.  Andrew and I literally can’t handle it, we catch each other’s eye all the time, she’s making us soft.

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//You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.  Matt.5.5-9

We got our medicals the day we arrived.  Submitted to Embassy yesterday.  We emailed the American Embassy right away with a total casual, minor begging for an appointment.  We are hoping to get one before Friday, two days as options.  Please pray that we do since our flight is that afternoon…

Thank you!  And thank you to each person who supported us along this road.  Adoption can be hard work, and close to impossible without support of good people.  So thank you, we share this amazing day with you.

Tonight, Andrew and I were so tired, we got ourselves and her ready, and just before I was going to rock her, I laid down with her in my arms.  We both feel asleep immediately.  I’ve always said I am not a cosleeper, kids are too crazy, but when I woke up an hour later, seeing all of us asleep in the bed because she had never fussed once and loves being held…I may be a convert.  Well, we’ll see.  I moved her to her crib so that she wouldn’t be disturbed.

Right now it’s 5:30am in Ethiopia.  We are headed to the country when everyone wakes up and we’ll be hoping on an Embassy appoinment.  Things have gone well so far, we just need that final meeting.

Anyways…..God is good.  Bye!  Salem!


“Forever, Papa?”

“Forever my love”

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“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”  

//bob goff.


Poppy’s “Room”

Before:  Took off the closet doors, revealed a real mess.



Took out the dividers, got rid of the junk and…


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Now Poppy has her own new little ‘room.’  Well, it’s more of a girl’s section, but we think it’s pretty special.  All the three littles will be sharing a room since they all have nap and play time as main attractions.  Maria will keep her own room since she is a student and needs access to her  desk at any time, although she begs to share with her sister.  Maybe one day :)   Patty and Larry worked to get the paper and shelves up while we were on our first trip.  The are shelves along the sides to hold her things, filled up by our amazing friends who threw us a surprise shower over the weekend, all families invited, an amazing BBQ.  We walked up thinking it was a growth group BBQ, then there were 60 people there clapping as we walked up (40 minutes late…)  Sneaky, wonderful friends blessing us and our sweet Penelope so much!


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We fly out tomorrow!  That bed will soon be filled with one loved, sweet, precious daughter.





We have been home 2 weeks as of yesterday.

We thought we’d feel sad with the wait in between, but we don’t.  We feel great.  That orphanage, those people, good people.  I feel like my heart is put to rest.  With our adoption from Russia there were three waits, the first one months long without knowing when we’d be invited back for court.

We’ve already been to court.

But don’t worry, while in Istanbul I realized that I hadn’t brought clothes for court, “Danggit!!!  I forgot!” I told Andrew.  He just smiled.  I am not a details person, which is always fine, things work out.  While in Ethiopia we walked into a mall-ish type place and I went into a store, which I remember being called ‘Fancy Lady,’ but I could be remembering that wrong.

I grabbed the hangered shoulder of a mustard yellow blouse with cream colored polka dots.  “Perfect!” I said to Andrew…who shook his head at me.  The gorgeous Ethiopian store worker?  She shook her head at me.  What happened to sales?  Wait–no, what happened to–wasn’t there a time in my life when I was stylish and could pick out cute clothes?  Perhaps that time has passed.

They helped me find some navy blue pin-striped deal and we called it a day, “I LOVE it!” they both told me.  Ok then.  You’re welcome.

On the way to court, we got stuck in traffic.  The two lane rode, somehow had both lanes going south.  So us and the other northbound suckers just sat there.  I watched all the people out my window, holding hands, arms around each other, babies wrapped in brightly colored but dusty cloth on their mama’s backs.   “This happens sometimes,” Fekadu told us as he honked the horn.  I held onto my stomach, my poor stomach, why had I brushed my teeth in the Turkish airport!?

We arrived at court, all our other friends were there, the ones adopting from the same little room as us who you become close to real quick, “Oh, is that an extra cracker you have, may I?” “YES!”  Needs and sharing from our little supplies make strangers into family real quick.

We crowded into a little room and sat on hard wood benches.  So different from Russia, so many families waiting at once, people smiling, people nervous.  Some of the men who work at the orphanage sitting there, smiling and talking to each other.   A family smashed in next to us was very nervous, I contemplated sharing the lavender oil in my purse, but sometimes people just aren’t into that sort of thing.  But I offered anyways, and she accepted, looking relieved.  Oh man, lavender smells good anytime, but in a third world country, with the traffic fumes flowing, it’s like breath of the gods.  We were all drenching ourselves, and conversation turned light, happy.

We shared about the successes of our adopted children at home.


We popped up, “Oh, us.”  The nervous family looked nervous again.

We walked into a small room, and were greeted my a serious man.  Serious in Ethiopia means a casual smile the entire time, just a little less bubbly, but kind.  Serious in Russia means death eyes to match their frown, but doesn’t negate kindness :)

“You know people who have adopted from Ethiopia?”


“You live in an area with diversity?”


“You have met the child?”


“Do you love her?”

Oh jeez buddy, “Yes,” we said as we looked at each other and gripped our hands together, tears slipping down my face.

He smiled kindly at us, “That’s good,” he said.

And we were done.

5 minutes?  What happened to the two hour grilling like last time?

Proud parents.  Four children, one little girl, sweet as pie, now our own.

We walked back into the bench room and hugged some friends.

We traveled back to the orphanage for one more visit and one of the moms told us, “Did you know that in that room with us was the MoWa leader?”

“What!?” we all said.

MoWa is the group of people who decides when you can visit your child.  They have slowed down the entire process adding months and months onto every adoptive family.  How many times that name had been in my pleading prayers.

“Yeah, he was asking our driver, ‘Why are all these people crying and hugging,’ and our driver told him that we all love our children so much and it’s a big day for us.”  Apparently he was stunned.  I think I’ll take that as a good thing.

We arrived at the orphanage and scooped up a happy, squealing girl, so excited to see us.





“I’m fly and I know it” -Penelope


Poppy and her fan club

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Watching the trash collectors

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We went out to lunch at Lucy, where the bones were found.  It was gorgeous, a lush gazebo.



These two guys may look cool, but they are such softies and will do anything to make any of the children in the orphanage smile.  Grace and kindness flowing from them like a river.

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After we finished our meal, it was time for the afternoon rain.  We sat under an awning, and a man approached us.  He had his family with him, teenaged, sweet white and brown children, he told us they had adopted years ago and they were here as a heritage trip.  He spoke some kind, encouraging words to us.

“Are you a pastor?” I asked him.

He looked at me surprised, “Yes, I am, how did you know?”

“You’re encouraging and a good speaker.”

“Well, I mean, I could have been a pharmaceutical salesmen, right?”

We sat under the eves with Fekadu as the rain cleared up before heading back to the car.

“We have nothing but time here,” Fekadu smiled.


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We drove up to the green mountains once the rain cleared up, green forever, above and below.   At the bottom was 7,000ft above sea level.  Ethiopian Olympic athletes train on this mountain.  Half way up, we looked down to a sea of tree tops, lush and alive.  Drenched in sunlight, the air fresh.



We saw woman after woman carrying a small forest piled on their backs and walking by foot down the curving road.

“For fifteen cents,” Fekadu told us.  It must take most of a day to collect and haul it all.  It  was what the poorest of the poor did.  We’d see their faces, strain and focus etched in their eyes, sweat streaming down their faces.

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While exploring the palace we met the sweetest shepherd boy.  Like all the people here, he was kind and giving, a lightness in his eyes showing he cared about people.

“Why is everyone just so kind here?” we always ask.

Fekadu shrugged his shoulders and smiled.





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At the bottom of the mountain, we visited the Former Fuel Workers Rehabilitation Center.  A missionary family has set up a loom cottage where the women can weave hand made scarves and sell them for decent, livable wages instead of carrying those piles of trees.  Creating a new life for themselves and their families.  We are SO into this, this is one of the biggest things to us.  We grabbed so many darn scarves, bought them all up.  The best investment.




We visited Mo’s church for the service…we could hear it blocks away in the dark as we approached.   As we walked up, the scene was different, people were spilling out onto the sidewalk, standing room only.  We contemplated staying outside, but really wanted to see Mo.  We snaked our way inside, and tried to find standing room.  Mo was up there preaching with a full band filling the room with music and his preaching, the man was on fire, people closed their eyes, taking in the words, hearing of God’s love.    All the people across the rows were holding hands with each other and singing.  Andrew and I were too shy to hold hands, and stood, taking it all in.




“Babe, let’s take an ‘Usie’”   “What?”



Oh, I forgot to show you my court shirt.  Are you as impressed as Andrew and the sales lady were?  Perhaps the 80s are back.

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Our final goodbye.

When dew slides down the sleepy grass, when pools of sunlight spill onto the wood planked floor, when the warm dust kicks up behind the hooves of the lambs–glowing as it swirls in the sun, when you stare up at the stars and wait, remember what we told you, and let each memory guide your heart to know, ‘We love you to the moon and back, look up to the moon and know our love for you.’  Our love is around you, even now when you don’t see us, you can feel us. Even in the dust, even in the moon, even in the stars.

We are here with you.

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