Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ready, set...



After finally getting the go ahead from the embassy, we leave Omaha on November 2 and on November 4, we will take our son away from the transition home to be loved in our family forever! We will board our return flight on the evening of November 5 and be back home on November 6. Yes, it's the quickest trip possible to Ethiopia.  :)

We are beyond excited.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Submitted!

We received our PAIR approval last week, and today our paperwork was submitted to the United States Embassy in Addis, Ababa.  Now, we wait for a visa interview appointment date...then bring our boy home!  Very soon now.  :)


Monday, September 29, 2014

The unpleasant business of waiting


I was really hoping that by now, I would know when our dear boy was coming home to us...but I don't.  We recently found out some new information about his past that is very heartbreaking, and I have been tied up in knots ever since.  Anxiety is my new constant companion.  I am a fretful person by nature, but every possible thing that could be troublesome seems to be multiplied ten fold.  When anxiety strikes, some people find solace in energetic activity of some type.  Umm, not me.  When I am feeling anxious or overwhelmed, I tend to go into a sort of hibernation mode, where even the most trivial of tasks seems insurmountable.  Laundry, meals, cleaning...heck, even just leaving the house...a struggle.

This is me, unable to stir up enough energy to fold a load of laundry.

I feel lethargic all day, wanting to do nothing but nap, read, and obsessively check my email.  I still feel so exhausted each night...but then, this old friend pops in for a visit:

Insomnia

...and so, I'm not sleeping well.  So then, I'm tired in the morning, which magnifies my feelings of anxiety, which makes me listless, so I nap, then I'm restless at night, which makes me tired...

Aargh.  Please, oh please, United States Embassy/USCIS people.  Approve my baby.  I need some normal here.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Things are happening, but all I can do is wait

Wow, Labor Day is this weekend!  Fall is right around the corner.  These kids went back to school:

Candace and Sarah, 4th grade and Thomas, 2nd grade.

These girls moved to their own little house in Lincoln and the older one graduated with a master's degree and started a grown up teaching job.  And she got my first grandpuppy.

Emily and Anna on moving day.


Tom and I with our master's graduate, newly employed daughter Emily.


Emily and her baby Mia, who is huge.


Of course, oldest son is still living in Omaha, working and going to school.  Tom is working on about fifty things at once, both at home and at the business.

Kenneth is 25!  How did that happen?


Me?  I'm just...waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.

For my little guy to come home.  Yes, this seems to be the world's speediest international adoption, I know. We applied to adopt him in February and we have already passed court and likely the entire process will be over by October.  But gosh, once you see that face and hold that little body in your arms and hear that sweet little voice call you "Mommy"...the waiting is painfully hard.  Adding to my angst is the fact that our boy is the only child left in his transition home.  It's just him and a nanny, all day and all night.  How lonely he must be, and how scared!  I am not exaggerating that not five minutes go by without me thinking about him.  I nested like crazy before we headed off to court, and now I seem to have lost the will to perform productive actions of any kind.

Praying that the embassy and immigration people approve his case soon.  My family needs a functional mom.  :)


Monday, August 11, 2014

Adoption update...surprise!

I haven't written much about our latest adoption.  There has been a lot to keep me occupied with my other six kids, and I have been in a blogging slump.  And we weren't really expecting anything much to happen until late this fall at the earliest.

Until two weeks ago...when our agency asked if we could be ready to appear in court in Addis Ababa on August 5th.

We said "yes".  Then scrambled like mad people to make it happen.

This is our son, Carlisle Fitsum Spears.


He is five and a half years old, and full of fun. 


 On August 5, 2014 the judge said that he is ours.

His Ethiopian name means "perfect", and he is.  We chose the name Carlisle to honor my dad, who passed away two and a half years ago.  We plan to call him Lisle.

He is ours and we are his.  Family.  We can't wait to bring him home to meet the rest of his forever family.






Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Reuniting, part 2

The second part of our trip to southern Ethiopia took us to the Hadiya zone and the tiny village of Sewore.  This is where Feyissa Thomas was born and where he lived for the first four years of his life.  It is the village where virtually all of his extended family still lives.  Thomas began to get excited as we passed through the town of Bonosha and near to Sewore.  Suddenly he sat up straight and said excitedly, "There it is...this is it!"  

Indeed, it was.  There was the cluster of simple picturesque huts that Thomas remembers as home and which we recognized from the video provided by our adoption agency.  There was a crowd of people near the road, but Thomas had eyes only for one...his birth father.

The entire village was there to welcome home their boy.  Not just his family...an entire village.

The pictures tell the rest of the story.

We arrive.


Thomas and his birth father.



Soccer with his brothers and other village kids.


A proud dad watches his son.


Family



Brothers


Home


Neighbors



Friday, May 30, 2014

Reuniting, part 1


We have embarked on a trip that has been over a year in planning...traveling to Ethiopia to visit the littles' birth families.  Our first stop was Nazret, Ethiopia.  We visited the twins' great aunt whom they lived with for most of their life in Ethiopia.


The twins' birth mom surprised us with a special request:  that we take the twins to visit their half brother.  Although Tom and I knew of this boy's existence, it was our understanding that birth mom was not in contact with him at all and we never expected the twins to meet him.  So...it was a little awkward telling the twins that they have a brother whom we were now going to visit.  Fortunately, they took it all in stride.  The family resemblance is striking.


Following our morning in Nazret, we traveled to Ziway where the twins' mother lives.  Many, many friends and relatives came to visit with the girls and enjoy an abundant and delicious meal.  The girls also got to meet their maternal grandmother.


But the best part of the visit was seeing the girls reconnect with their first mom.





Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fledglings

Two of my chicks are preparing to leave the nest.  Emily and Anna are moving into a nice little rental house in Lincoln with two of their friends.  Emily will be taking up residence this weekend.  Anna is going with us on our trip to Ethiopia to visit the littles' birth families, so she doesn't officially fledge for a few more weeks.  

Mother hen that I am, I feel quite anxious.  It will feel strange to have all three bigs in my house only as visitors.  It's the natural order and what we raise them up to do:  be independent and make a way in the world.

It still makes me sad.  Fly high, little chicks.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dessie, Ethiopia...Because Every Mother Matters

                          

Visiting one of my sponsored mamas, Worke, and her family.  I am so happy to see them healthy, well-fed, and looking forward to a brighter future.  Worke has accomplished so much, and has plans to do so much more.  Gobez!  (Good job!)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Melkam Fasika! Happy Easter!



This Easter, we had colored eggs.



We had fancy clothes for morning Mass.



We had marshmallow Peeps and chocolate bunnies.



We had homemade noodles for dinner.  Noodles say "holiday" at our house.



But this is what makes this particular Sunday Easter...thankful today and everyday for Jesus.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Paper chase

Here is the first update on our latest adoption:  we are making progress in finishing up our paperwork.  All of the documents for our home study have been completed.  As soon as the home study is finished, we can apply for immigration approval.  When we get immigration approval (I-171H), we can get all of the dossier documents notarized and state certified.  After that, federal certification and off to Ethiopia.

Yeah, it sounds like a lot...but we've gotten a lot done!  Here is the photographic evidence of our first completed documents, our Indiana birth certificates and marriage license.







Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We have room


Who are we to dispute Mother Teresa?  

With happiness and some degree of trepidation, I am making the announcement that we have signed on the dotted line to adopt again.  We are welcoming into our family another son, a five year old boy from Ethiopia who has lost both of his parents and is in need of the love of a family.  Our family... whose members are anxious to love him back.

I expect I might lose some friends over this announcement.  I know many think you can't have an ethical international adoption these days, to which I respectfully disagree.  As parents who have been around the block a couple of times in the Ethiopian adoption neighborhood, we are aware of the pitfalls and know to proceed with caution.  After thoughtful consideration, we believe this is right for this child.  That is all that will be said on this topic.

Some friends will kindly point out our ages.  Yep, we're old.  I'm the oldest mom hanging out at the elementary school.  I'll be an even older mom hanging out at the high school in a few years.  But hey, did you know Halle Berry just had a baby?  She's 47, which means when her child is five, she'll be 52... two years older than I am now.  What does she have that I don't have?  (Besides fabulous beauty, obviously.)  I'm going to be old regardless, so I might as well be old and happy with what I'm doing.  I might as well get even older without having to say "I wish I would have," or "I wonder what it would have been like?".  

I know some friends think that anything over two is an excessive amount of children in a household.  Well, see the graphic above.  We couldn't disagree more.  Yes, we now have a lot of children, soon to be even more.  Yes.  It's a LOT.  We also have the financial resources to care for them through the college years, so I'm not sure why anyone should care.  And we have lots of some other things too... Love.  Laughter.  Compassion.  Hope.  Faith.  

And lets not forget pets.  We have lots of pets.  :)

Those things are worth a lot.  Probably more than the parent-funded college education and the awesome vacations.  

We have been richly blessed.  We have room for one more.


Friday, December 27, 2013

The Undocumented Christmas

We have had an even busier than normal December... gymnastics meets, school functions, a birthday party for Thomas and an out of town wedding on top of the usual holiday whirl.  As a result, a funny thing happened to this mom who doubles as the chronicler of family events... I got tired of carrying my camera around.  I grew weary of documenting the festivities and watching them from behind an electronic device.  I didn't write a family Christmas letter to include with the cards, which haven't been mailed yet (but they will be!).  So this will be a Christmas that lives on only in our memories.

And... that's okay.  Our memories can be a pretty rich canvas to display the events of our past.  I won't remember every detail of this Christmas, and neither will my kids.  What I will remember is that all six of my kids were home, the presents were fun, the food was good and there was love all around.  We have been immeasurably blessed by the Baby whose birthday we celebrated that day.

That's enough.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Birthday boy

Thomas turned seven years old today!  It hardly seems like anytime at all that we first saw his picture as a skinny three and a half year old; now he's the tallest of his friends and eager to take on all kinds of new challenges.  It's hard to do a birthday party right around the holidays... so hard to squeeze in a celebration during this busy holiday season.  Thomas is always so thankful for everything he receives and so accommodating... this year we decided to give him a super fun party and we went bowling.  He invited his two best buddies from school and his best friend who lives down the street.


At the alley and ready to bowl!


Thomas bowls with style.


Bowling was followed up with pizza and birthday cupcakes!


Presents!

A great time was had by all!

Friday, November 29, 2013

A happy Thanksgiving!

 We stayed home for Thanksgiving this year; just the immediate family gathered around the table.  I love big extended family gatherings, but I felt incredibly contented to just be with my husband and kids, all together under our roof.  We had a lovely traditional Thanksgiving feast and I even brought out the good china and crystal... I think for the first time since the littles have been with us.

God is good.  :)
My family... blessed by them every day!