Monday, June 20, 2011

They are Coming HOME!!!!!!!!!!!

After a little confusion on Friday, we found out this morning thaaaaat............both Malachi and Hadassah have CLEARED the US embassy!!! We also confirmed an embassy interview appointment Wednesday, June 29th. This is a HUGE answer to prayer and we are just so So SO grateful! We will arrive in Ethiopia on Monday morning, June 27th and will go immediately to pick-up Malachi and Hadassah from the orphanage. How do we say thank you to the beautiful women who have poured out their lives for our children these past 7 months? When you witness the compassion and love flowing through them toward these precious children, it's a rare beauty to behold. I can barely think about it without my heart squeezing with deep emotion...God's character is just so evident in the care of orphans. We're SO thankful for Tikuret, and yet we know it's time...time to bring these children home...into their family...restored as a son and daughter...living testimonies of our God. 

Thank you all so much for the prayer and support! These 2 little ones that were conceived in our hearts almost 2 years ago are finally coming home! The joy at the end of a long journey and hard fight is sweet indeed. Not sweet because of any of our accomplishments, but sweet because of God's revelation of His heart each step of the way. We're changed people. God's done a work in us that has rocked us to the core. We know the work will continue and we know He'll be faithful on this new journey. There's a quote that I read when we were first starting this adoption. I've come back to it many times through the ups and downs of it all.

"I have found there and three stages to every great work of God...first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is DONE."
~J. Hudson Taylor

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." 
Philippians 1:6

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Submitted!

We found out yesterday that the kids' files have officially been submitted to the US Embassy for review. This is incredibly exciting and means we are very close to having full clearance to finally bring them home! The embassy will look through our files and make sure everything's in order. We have 2 specific prayer requests...
  
   1. We are praying that everything's good to go and the embassy gives us a green light for travel!
  
   2.We are also praying that we get an "embassy date" the week of June 27-30 so we can get home with the kids before my sister leaves for Peru on July 5th.

We should hear back from the embassy in 1-2 weeks. We also got updates on the kids yesterday and they're both healthy and growing:). We absolutely cannot wait to go back...it's starting to feel close and the excitement is definitely building!!! We've been taking time to look back and reflect on how far God's brought us on this journey....He is so faithful and we are trusting in Him, not the embassy or the process, but trusting in Him to bring our children home in His time!

As I mentioned before, there are several families waiting in this stage of the process with us. It has been such a blessing to email, encourage, and pray for one another throughout the journey. We found out several of those families were submitted with us! There are also several families SO close to submitting, hopefully next week. We're praying God's hand continues to work to bring all these little ones home! When you go visit your own children and see an orphanage full of kids waiting for their families, it does something to your heart. You deeply long to see them reunited and restored to their waiting families. Many of these other waiting children are the only family Malachi and Hadassah have known this past year. So, please pray for all these cases to move forward smoothly!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Inching Closer!

Amazingly, our embassy paperwork preparation since court has gone pretty smoothly. We were a little delayed getting our 2nd MOWA letter, but everything else has come in during the expected timeframes. Anyone who's followed our journey or someone else adopting knows that things going according to the "norms" is no small feat! We also know God's hand is on this process and we've seen His purposes prevail through what seem to us "smooth" and "rough" times. So, here's the update!

We got word yesterday that our agency has received the last piece of paperwork needed, the kids' passports. With our files now complete, they can take our paperwork to the US Embassy next Tuesday, June 14th. Our agency can only submit files to the embassy on Tuesdays. So, even though everything's in order, we have to wait a few more days. We then wait another 1-2 weeks to hear back from the embassy with their decision. We will hear one of two things...

1. The embassy will "clear" us for travel and we'll go get the kids the following week or two. The date will depend on when our embassy interview is scheduled which is usually 1-2 weeks after you're cleared.

OR

2. The embassy could possibly request more information (new documents, re-do paperwork, etc) which can take days, weeks, or months to complete.

We've been praying that our case is prepared carefully and that everything is in order so the embassy clears us. This final waiting period has been the hardest and yet the hope of the kids coming home is such a tangible promise to hold onto through the agony of the separation. I feel like God's swelling our hearts to the absolute maximum capacity to prepare us for the day we finally fully receive these 2 precious gifts into our family. We're actually weeks away from bringing Malachi and Hadassah HOME!!!!

Please join us in praying over these next few weeks as our paperwork is submitted to the embassy, reviewed, we receive news of the embassy's decision, and travel. Specifically, my sister is leaving July 5th to study in Peru for the whole summer. We are so desperately hoping and praying the kids will come home before she leaves. I don't know who's more excited to get these kids home, us or our families:). Malachi and Hadassah are coming home to a whole tribe of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who are bursting at the seams to pour out the love they've stored up these past 20 months of waiting!!! Stay tuned over the next few weeks...things should get very exciting and I'll do my best to keep you all posted!

I'll leave you with pictures of our awesome "tribe". I can't wait for the day when our kiddos sweet faces are added to these family photos:).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Names That Tell a Story

Malachi Justice Teshale Erb
Hadassah Joy Belaynesh Erb

Big names for such little people! Yes, our children do have long names:). But, every part tells a piece of their story and belongs in the very statement of their identity. I personally love name meanings and hearing how people decided on the names they used. Here's a quick back story on our little ones' names. 

At the very beginning of our adoption journey we believe God gave us the first names for our children. We wanted to give our children names that testified to the world about the character of our God. Soon after we filled out our initial application we went away for the weekend. While away God did some major work in our hearts. This was when we made the decision to adopt 2 children and we also talked about 2 names that we felt God may be giving us for our children, Malachi and Hadassah. At that time we had no idea what genders our children would be, but those were the 2 names laid on our hearts. Malachi was a name that Nate had thought of. When he first said it in the car we both just stopped, looked at each other, and knew that was it. We didn't know the meaning yet though. Hadassah was Queen Esther's name in the Bible and had always been one of my favorite names. I knew it meant myrtle tree and I loved her character in the Bible, but didn't know much about the significance of the meaning. 

When we researched their meanings, we just knew these were their names. We were open to 2 girls as well so we talked about a 2nd girl name but never settled on one. I think in our hearts we both sensed our older child would be Malachi and our younger Hadassah. This is what their first names mean. 

Malachi: my messenger

We love that Malachi's name in and of itself states belonging to God, "my". We thank God for placing him in our family and cannot wait to get him home. But, we know this child belongs to the Lord. We now have the honor and priveledge to raise him in the kingdom as our son. We also love that he is God's "messenger". This is first and foremost true to us. Malachi has already taught us so much about God. From the time he was conceived in our hearts and I'm sure for years to come, we pray he will continue being a messenger of God's JUSTICE to us and to all those around him. This brings us to his middle name, Justice.With Malachi's name we kept thinking, my messenger...of what? What does God want to show us through this little one? After a study through the book of Radical, our pastors were teaching about God's justice. During this season of hearing God's heart for justice, our prayer is that Malachi is a messenger of God's justice. 

Hadassah: myrtle tree

Myrtle trees are considered one of the most beautiful, fragrant, and sweet-smelling flowering trees. They are also known for growing with little water and in the toughest environments. In many ways this whole adoption has felt like that at times. It's been a very dry and difficult season and yet God has brought the most incredible beauty and fruit from it. Easter Sunday, 2010, during some of the most intense months of waiting, we planted a myrtle tree in our yard in honor of our children to come and as a symbol of God's promise. You can read more about that HERE The Israelites brought myrtle trees back with them when they came out of exile. They used them in several feasts and scripture references them growing within desert places as a sign for the Lord. With Hadassah, we thought a lot about what the fruit and reward out of this dry desert time would be. When we first laid eyes on our daughter's sleeping face in her referral picture, there was nothing but pure JOY in our hearts. Her middle name needed to be Joy. Joy happens to be my middle name as well and I'm so excited to share that with her. Isn't it so true that no matter how hard the trial, God brings you out on the other side and fills you heart and mouth with His joy; not joy based on feelings or circumstances, but a heavenly joy from Him. Our prayer for Hadassah is that she would be a sweet-smelling offering to our Lord, even through hard times, and that her joy would be found in His presence and flow to those around her. 

Another HUGE part of their names are their given Ethiopian names. We knew that we would keep their Ethiopian names as a second middle name. These names are so special to us and we loved calling them by these while we were in Ethiopia. In many ways, we feel like their Ethiopian names are more of a second first name than a second middle name. They are a part of their story, and for us, we felt like keeping them will help our children in sharing their story someday. You will probably hear us use their Ethiopian names quite a bit. Their Ethiopian names very much so speak for themselves. Ethiopians choose names that very much so reflect the circumstances surrounding the child and their hope for their child. 

Teshale: he becomes better

Belaynesh: you are superior

There's so much more we could say about their names. God has already spoken so much to us through their names and we pray that someday our children's names will even further proclaim the gospel in HIS kingdom. 

A really quick note on pronunciation for the more difficult names. Also, please feel free to ask us in person about the pronunciations!

Hadassah (Huh-DAH-sah) "u" as in other and "a" as in father
Teshale (Tesh-SHAH-lu) "e" as in elephant
Belaynesh (Beh-LIE-nesh)