Monday, December 3, 2012

Big Brother and Progress Update

One of the best parts of our trip was taking our oldest son, Malachi. It was an awesome expereince to return to his birth country with him, as a settled established family. We visited Tikuret (the orphanage he previously lived at), ate tons of Ethiopian food, stayed with friends, and of course spent most of our time with baby Abel.

It's hard to tell how many memories Malachi has of his life in Ethiopia. He seemed to remember Sister Asayech (the director of Tikuret) and different things about Tikuret, like where his bed was. We could tell the nannies and workers at Tikuret were incredibly blessed to see Malachi "Teshale" again. They squealed with delight when they saw him, scooped him up in their arms, and smothered him with kisses. Many of them were tearful and very emotionally overwhelmed to see him again. It was so beautiful to see how loved our son was and is. Our children have a huge family, extending the whole way to Ethiopia:). Sister Asayech told us when we were there, "Every child is like my own and I never forget even one. They're here in my heart." She also thanked us over and over again for adopting. She said as much as she loves the children, she can never give them what we can, a family. We were able to give her a photo album with pictures of our children. She held it to her heart and said, "I'll cherish this always." I think the most meaningful moment was when she embraced Malachi and said, "I am so happy I get to see you again before I die. I love you." Tears all around after that!

Adoption stories here often start when a family receives their referral. But, oh how much more there is to the story before that. God is working mightily through Ethiopians caring for orphans in their own country. We just saw a glimpse of that and were so deeply reminded of how many people God used to bring our children into our family. I'm often reminded of the pain and brokenness in adoption...but, then God gives us these moments to behold the beauty and restoration of it all and it so clearly speaks to us of HIM and HIS heart! Adoption is such a beautiful image of the gospel. I'm so grateful for my children. They daily bring me back to God's heart.

If any of you have children from Tikuret, Sister Asayech said she'd LOVE updates. I have her new email if you want it. Also, she's hoping to come to the states in January to share her heart for orphan care in Ethiopia. I know she's looking for families who have adopted through Tikuret to host her and arrange an event. Just throwing it out there as I know some who read our blog also know and love Sister Asayech!

*UPDATE ON ABEL* Our son is now at embassy medical, the last step before embassy submission. There are a lot of uncertainties surrounding his physical. Please pray that the medical testing would be done quickly, results would be conclusive, and that we could be submitted to embassy as soon as possible, hopefully this Wed or next (our agency only submits files on Weds). And pray for continued grace and peace for our family. The waiting for Abel has been difficult and becomes more painful...but, God's grace is ever increasing and meets us in our weakness! There's also quite a few families with our agency at this last step. We're praying for a whole bunch of files to be submitted soon!!!
Malachi and Sister Asayech. She even came and picked us up and took us to Tikuret for the afternoon!
This woman is filled with such selfless love for the children in her care. They flock to her, calling out "mamma mamma!"
Here we are with some of the nannies and nurses at Tikuret.
Malachi and Abel...brothers:).

Malachi LOVED the food while we were there!
Daddy and his boys.
 
Malachi was a pro at feeding Abel his bottles. And Abel's a pro at eating;).
Each night we would walk Abel back to his crib to say goodnight. Next time we won't have to do that!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

INTRODUCING . . .

Abel Josiah Erb
(we're still deciding if we want to add a 2nd middle name...we'll share more on his name later)

I hope to post more about our trip soon! We have pretty bad jet-lag this time around, ugh. We don't remember suffering from it last time. Any advice on how to kick it? 

Abel's an absolute delight and we're so grateful he's our son! He's going on 7 months and is a super healthy peanut. He's got adorable dimples and the sweetest laugh. We miss him SO much! Leaving was harder than we thought it would be. We're trusting God to reunite our family soon!

Currently, our agency is gathering the necessary paperwork for embassy. This typically takes about 6-8 weeks. Once they have everything, then Abel begins with embassy doctor appointments and processing. This is where our case could get tricky because of some things I'll share about later. Please keep praying that our family finds favor during this process.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
    let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
    you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
Psalm 5:11-12

Thursday, November 1, 2012

"He's All Yours..."

We passed court on Wednesday!!!! Pics coming soon :) :) :) We fly out in just a few hours and will try to update more once we get home. Thanks for the prayers, everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2012

We Met Our Son

Yesterday, we met Baby A! The first glimpse of that beautiful Ethiopian woman, holding a blue bundle, with my swaddled son inside, just about stopped my heart. Baby A is an absolute delight...pure sweetness. He just looked and looked into both our eyes, was cooing, and even belly laughing. I can hardly believe we're here in Ethiopia, again, working to adopt our 3rd child. I don't have much time, but wanted to do a quick update.

Our trip has been amazing so far. One of the highlights was taking Malachi to visit his orphanage, Tikuret. It was so special for Malachi and all the nannies to see one another again. It was a deeply meaningful time. We also had a wonderful time staying with our friends, the Shannon's, of Embracing Hope Ethiopia. We'll be spending time with Baby A the next few days, court on Wed, and then we fly out Thursday. We're all doing great so far. Malachi started with some belly trouble today:(, but hopefully it'll pass soon. Nate was sick a few days ago, but is better now. Praying the rest of us stay healthy!

Thanks for all the prayers, they've definitely been felt and effective. Hopefully we can update more soon, after court. Here's a sneak peak of us being handed Baby A for the first time.

Friday, October 12, 2012

We're Going to ETHIOPIA!!!

October 24th, we will board a plane headed to E.T.H.I.O.P.I.A!!! It worked out that our 4 year old son and my dad will be coming with us too. Our court date, where we appear in front of the judge to give our consent to the adoption, is October 31st. We are beyond excited and grateful...there's really no words. You wait so long, pray so fervently, and fight so hard in an adoption; then, all of a sudden, the door swings open. And you just kinda stand back and stare at this open door in awe and disbelief. You can hardly believe that this moment has come. You turn to each other and say, "are we actually going to Ethiopia, do we actually have a son there"? It's just all so surreal. But, these open door moments in an adoption don't come very often, so we are sitting back and enjoying the excitement and anticipation building these past few days! Thanks for the prayers and we'll keep you posted. 

By the way, Baby A will not be able to come home with us on this trip. We will then return home and wait another 2-4 months to finally bring him home. That wait will be the most difficult. But, it's also the wait with the most hope, because the finish line is actually starting to come into view.

We'll post more details about our trip soon and how you can pray for us!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Quick Adoption Update

So, we heard that there's a court date scheduled for Monday, October 8th. However, this is NOT the court date we travel for:(, but a paperwork hearing to make sure everything's in Baby A's file. Our agency has told us the paperwork will all be there and the judge will assign us our date either that day or shortly after. We're still hoping for a late October/early November travel date, but just have to wait a few more weeks to hear.

We got new pictures of Baby A and he looks great! He's growing, looks happy, and of course is wearing pink;). This was a sweet surprise as we were told to not expect any pics during rainy season. We're so grateful our son was able to be moved to our agency's transition home from the government orphanage he was at.

Last year the judge didn't show up for very early court dates that had been scheduled right after rainy season. Please pray that she'll be able to return on time, that our case will be heard, and that they'll assign us a travel date SOON after!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Referral: Our 3rd Born!

August 1st we got a surprise phone call that changed our lives forever, again:). Thinking I was simply getting a return call from our agency, I was absolutely floored when our coordinator said, "I have great news for you...your referral is ready!" WHAT?!?!? The rest of what she said pretty much sounded like gibberish as I tried to comprehend what was happening. I quickly tried to come back to earth and stopped her from sharing details about our referral as Nate and I wanted to hear the news together and he was at work. But, there was one word I had surely heard her say...HIM. Before we hung up, I managed to squeak out through tears, "did you say, him?"  Yep, it was a boy and she wanted to know if we wanted to review his file. (We were expecting a girl for various reasons). It took about .2 seconds for my mind to catch up with my heart before I adamantly let her know that we absolutely wanted this referral!

Nate rushed home from work and we excitedly opened an email filled with the story of our 3rd born, a son, from Ethiopia. We'll call him Baby A for now. Some of you may be wondering why we took so long to share our news. Well, we were hoping and praying to travel to Ethiopia before the court closure which happens annually from mid-August to early October. We knew it was a long shot, but our agency felt sure we would be able to travel early. Well, we weren't able to squeeze in:(. It's been a roller coaster the past few weeks being told we'd definitely travel in days and to be on red alert, to only find out a week later that travel would now be months instead of days away. We are hoping to travel sometime late October and ask you to pray with us that we may even hear our travel date this week. The courts are now closed in Ethiopia, but they will still be issuing court dates this week yet.

So, a little bit about Baby A; he's adorable, 4 months old, and oh so little and sweet. He reminds us of his sister and has beautiful Ethiopian eyes. We are absolutely awed by our God and Baby A's life. Malachi and Hadassah are thrilled with their new brother. We got 3 pictures of Baby A, and Malachi's convinced there's 3 babies; one for Mommy, Daddy, and him. Hadassah constantly runs to the computer asking to see her baby brother. We're hoping to maybe take Malachi along to Ethiopia with us which he's so excited about. It's been amazing to walk through this adoption so far and we are expectantly waiting on God as He continues to write this chapter about our sweet Baby A. As we can't show pictures until we pass court, I'll leave you with Baby A's precious hands and feet . We'll keep you all posted on our progress through the rest of the adoption process!



Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day "Tension"

Disclaimer: I am in no way downing our American Mother's Day and I think it is a truly special day. I deeply appreciated all the thoughts of encouragement sent my way! This is a testimony of what God did in my heart yesterday.

Yesterday was Mother's Day. Last year, I spent Mother's Day on an airplane, flying thousands of miles away from Ethiopia and my children. It was a difficult day. Weeks before, we had adopted our 2 Ethiopian children and yet I came home with empty arms. I thought this Mother's Day would be such a celebration. And while it was joyous, I was completely surprised and overwhelmed with the pain that pierced my heart. From the time I woke up and my husband said Happy Mother's Day, my heart and mind traveled across the globe to an African country called, Ethiopia. Memories flooded me; mothers and children begging on the streets with empty bellies and hollow eyes, mothers walking miles with their children strapped to their backs to try to make mere pennies, mothers changing diapers made of plastic grocery bags, mothers sleeping on the street holding their children as close as possible, and mothers who made a difficult decision to give their children life because death was knocking on the door.

Honestly, I deeply struggled this Mother's Day. I struggled with the "badge of honor" I received because I am now a mom. While I deeply appreciated the encouraging words and congrats of sorts, I wished I had a mirror with me yesterday that reflected the streets of Ethiopia. When people wished me Happy Mother's Day, I could've held it up and shown mothers who are so deserving of honor and support and yet live with nothing. Mothers who have had their dignity taken and yet they walk with beauty, pride, and love that inspires me to the core. I don't mean to sound ungrateful for the love that surrounded me...it was truly a sweet blessing! I just longed for ALL to receive the love and support I did.

Someone recently said to my husband, "I just don't understand how anyone could ever give up their child". No...we don't. We don't understand what it's like to watch your child wasting away, looking at you with hungry eyes, knowing that this cruel world provides no life or future for your precious little one. We cannot imagine. To me, the family members who made the decisions to give up M&H are my heroes! They made a decision I don't know I could've made...not because of some great love I have, but because of my own selfishness.

While pondering these things, I asked God why everything has to be so hard with adoption. Adoption is this intense blend of beauty and brokenness and I have found that both things only deepen with time. "Why can't there ever just be pure joy God?" I asked. Immediately in my heart, I heard God whisper, "this is pure joy." I was defining joy as the lack of pain, suffering, and brokenness. God reminded me to "count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds..." (James 1:2) So, amidst an emotional Mother's Day, my heart was bursting with joy and my face was soaked in tears. It was such a meaningful day and I pray God used it to strengthen me as a mother. All of these thoughts, emotions, and reminders brought forth gratitude and worship. So, I think I'll try to embrace this "tension" of living in brokenness and beauty, a fallen world yet a restored follower of Jesus, and suffering amidst great joy. I'm learning that this "tension" is continually right where I find God.

Mother's Day is quite a day; for some it's filled with smiles, flowers, and cards, for others it's filled with sadness and loss, and for some it's filled with heartache and unfulfilled desires. I think what God showed me is, that is okay. It's okay for such a wide variety of emotions and experiences on such a beautiful yet broken day. God knows all His children, can meet them where they're at, and breathe His pure joy right into the very center of each heart. God gave mothers to children and when that design is disrupted for whatever reason, it hurts. It hurts because God's design is so good.

My heart squeezed as I drove by a busy graveyard of grown children planting flowers to remember their beloved mothers, as I remembered those longing to be a mom to no avail, as I thought of empty wombs where life so prematurely ended, and as I saw mothers' empty arms because their children are already with Jesus. But, God is a God who restores. I've tasted it and the beautiful restorative side of all this pain is oh so real and good. God's writing all of our stories and if you're in the "tension" or even fully immersed in the brokenness of it all, hang on! We can put our hope in our God's character...and His is a character who delights to redeem and restore.

If you've never heard about Jerry and Christy Shannon's ministry, Embracing Hope Ethiopia, please check them out. They are doing incredible kingdom work in Ethiopia to encourage, honor, and strengthen mothers in Ethiopia. Here's the link, http://www.embracinghopeethiopia.com/

I'm so tremendously grateful that God chose me as Malachi and Hadassah's mommy:). We have 2 incredible children and are beyond blessed to be awaiting another Ethiopian cherub!!!!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Huge Yard Sale this Weekend!!!

2 DAY SALE this weekend!!!!
   Fri, May 4th (3-7pm)  &  Sat, May 5th (7-2pm)
   317 North George Street, Millersville, PA 17551   
  http://g.co/maps/pt373(check here for location details)

We have loads of VERY nice items (see detailed lists below). We'll have lots of FOOD too! Things are priced to sell and we want the place cleared out! Many families have donated and TOP quality items are being sold. Some things with tags or like new. ALL proceeds go to support our adoption of 1-2 children from Ethiopia! Please stop by, meet our family, shop the sale, and grab a bite to eat at our delicious food bar. It will not only be a great sale, but a great event and we hope to see you there! Here's a general listing, although there's much more.

APPLIANCES
-refrigerator (older but in great working condition)
-gas stove (with manual)
-GE profile dishwasher (with manual)
-microwave (like-new stainless steel panasonic)
-space heater

FURNITURE
-antique straight back chairs
-other various chairs
-quilt rack
-table
-tv/entertainment stands
-several pedastools
-over toilet metal storage rack
-sewing table (with machine)
-several end tables (different sizes)
-set of wooden TV trays (with stand)
-several shoe racks
-mission style bookcase with glass doors (like new)
-various lamps and shades

HOUSE DECOR
-lots of primitives (many new from Flower 'n Craft)
-baskets (many and different sizes)
-tons of wall hangings (country, primitive, antique, picture, painting, and more)
-primitive shelves
-candles and accessories
-wreaths
-seasonal items (Christmas, Halloween, spring, and fall)
-frames-a huge selection
-nick-nacks
-bird houses
-small old desk

HOUSEHOLD
-tupperware and other storage
-cookware
-bakeware
-like new China set
-glass & crystal items
-serving dishes (every day and formal)
-food mill
-George foreman grill
-crock pot
-bread box
-mug sets
-travel coffee mugs
-bagel slicer
-stock pot
-silver plated tea service set
-Ball jars (LOADS of them and different sizes. Some new in boxes)
-food chopper
-step stools
-wicker hamper
-trash cans
-Hoover floor max deluxe hard floor machine (with manual and accessories)
-kitchen towels
-bath mat set
-floor mats
-oven mit set (brand new)
-garden pots
-pillow set

CLOTHING (neatly arranged on hanging racks and tables...it will be easy to look through)
         EVERYTHING was presorted and only the nicest top of the line stuff kept!!
-tons of infant-5T clothing (brand-name, many with tags, both genders, NICE stuff and lots of it)
-some older children's clothing but not as much
-adult clothing (men and women's, brand-name)
-2 leather coats
-purses and bags
-shoes (adult and lots of very nice/like new infant-children's)

BABY GEAR & ACCESSORIES
-pack 'n play (extra long)
-evenflo highchair
-Eddie Bauer baby bouncer seat
-Fisher Price girls bouncer seat
-Kolcraft floor bassinet
-Chico side by side double stroller
-Graco single stroller (older style but in good condition)
-changing table
-like new GRACO diaper bag with matching travel bag
-exersaucer

ELECTRONICS & OFFICE
-various printers/fax machine
-Kenwood high-fi component stereo system
-various speakers (outdoor, indoor, computer, and more)
-alarm clock/radio (brand new)
-web cam
-track lighting
-cameras (1 film and 1 older digital)

MISC
-toys
-games
-puzzles
-kids plastic chairs
-wire metal dog crates
-tennis rackets
-suitcases
-badminton set
-roller blades
-costumes
-costume patterns
-DVDs
-old books
-new books
and MUCH MUCH MORE!
*And don't forget, YUMMY Homemade Food (cinnamon rolls, baked goods, coffee, hotdogs&sauerkraut, drinks, etc)

Friday, April 27, 2012

HUGE Adoption Yard Sale!!!

We are having a yard sale for our adoption!!! If you live in the area, please stop by and visit:). Bring family and friends, grab a bite to eat, and shop the sale. We have SO much stuff and it's some really nice items. We are hoping to have most of it sold by Saturday afternoon, but need your help! Please spread the word and share this link/info wherever you can! Hope to see you next weekend! Here's the link... http://lancaster.craigslist.org/gms/2980581471.html