We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

So Thankful

There are so many things for me to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend.  This post is a couple days late in coming, but  I felt my time was better spent with my family making memories than trying to write my thoughts on this blog.  The blog could wait... my family could not! 

I am SO very thankful that Sara is home with us for Thanksgiving.  She is such a joy to our family and I love her more and more every day.  She has bonded so well.  She is such a happy little girl!  Seriously, ALWAYS happy.  The only time she gets a bit crabby is when she is tired.  And she doesn't really get crabby, she just gets emotional.  If you tell her no to something, she will start to cry.  Normally, she will just understand that she can't do whatever we told her "no" to, and move on.  When she is tired, she will cry. 

I'm very thankful for my family.  I'm thankful for Tim, Cameron and Anna - along with my little Sara.  We had a really nice Thanksgiving dinner with my mom and Denis.  We traveled over to their home and spent the day with them.  It was very nice.  Mom and Denis got to spend some time getting to know Sara and we got to spend time talking and catching up on things.  It was very nice.

I'm thankful for the God who saved me.  He has blessed my life in so many ways, the greatest of which is to allow me to spend eternity with Him.  You really couldn't ask for more.  I'm thankful for the husband He provided for me and the children He blessed me with. 

I'm thankful for my job.  A bit hard to say right now, but since I still have one, I'm thankful for it.  For Tim and I, this is the company that has provided for our family for the last 7 years for me and 10 years for Tim.  It's hard to not be thankful for that.  I don't know what company we will be working for in the future, but for now, we continue to work for Roche, and I continue to be thankful.

For an update on Ms. Sara - she is doing absolutely wonderful.  She has been with us now for almost 4 weeks.  She is nearly potty trained when it comes to #2.  She does not tell me when she has to go, but I know her schedule, and I have not had to change a dirty diaper in three weeks!  What a blessing that is!  She is very good at listening to what we tell her to do in English.  She is not saying very many English words, but she is learning them quickly. She can now say "mama", "dada", "baby", "light" and "doggie".  She also learned to give kisses today.  She now has to kiss me about 100 times an hour.  I love it!  She LOVES to go for walks and loves to play rough.  She sleeps like an absolute charm.  You never hear a peep out of her after you put her to bed.  She is still extremely shy in new situations.  She warms up to people quickly though.  She likes grandma and Denis and loves, loves, loves her brother and sister!

Cameron and Anna have adjusted easily to having a new family member.  They really love her.  She is the perfect fit into our family.

Sometimes I look at Sara and the three years it took us to get her and I'm a bit overwhelmed.  God's plan was perfect!!!  I said it all along, but now I can SEE that it really was.  I can not imagine not having Sara in our lives.  I'm so thankful.  Adoption is such a miracle.  It's all God!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

In Christ,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

And now for some not so good news....

I want to share with you some very personal information.  It's hard to share, but I'm sharing in hopes that you will pray for us - pray for our family and pray for my colleagues.

So, I went back into work on Monday.  Monday was tough, leaving Sara at child care and then being back to work after quite some time away.  I had a lot to catch up on.  It was rough.  By the end of the day I was ready to go home.  I was anxious to see how Sara did.  Not a good day. 

Relatively speaking though, Monday was wonderful.  Tuesday turned out to be the really bad day.  On Tuesday we were called into an all employee staff meeting and were told that our branch of the company was being put on the market.  No one saw it coming.  It was a slap in the face. 

We are a bulk active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer.  We make the active ingredients for many pharmaceutical compounds.  We make the active ingredient for an obesity drug.  We make the active ingredient for a cancer drug.  We also make the active ingredient for pandemic flu drugs.  I've worked at small molecule API manufacturing facilities my entire life.  It's all I know.  Sure, my knowledge can be applied to other areas - anything that requires GMP's, but I LOVE API manufacturing. 

Our site is beautiful - but it's also expensive.  In this economy, who knows if it will be sold.  And if it is sold, will it be sold to a reputable company?

So, our world was pretty much turned upside down.  In the middle of all of this, Tim was in Switzerland.  We couldn't even discuss the impact to our family.  For those of you who don't know, Tim and I work at the same company.... so, our family is pretty impacted.

Right now, it's difficult.  We are adjusting to a new addition to our family, and then this.  God's timing is perfect though.  If this happened a month ago, I could not, in good conscience, have gone and gotten Sara.  It's just too uncertain.  God wanted this little girl to come home to our family though.  I'm confident in that.

I'm also confident in the fact that God is holding us securely in His hand.  I wish I knew what was on the other side of this journey, but I don't.  He's not going to tell me either... not until we've walked thru it.  It's difficult.  Faith is difficult when it's challenged.  Trust is difficult when it's challenged.  We need faith and trust in God to make it through this.  My prayer is that when we do get to the other side of this, that we will be thankful for having gone through it.  I pray the grass is greener on the other side.  I don't know at this point what "the other side of this" will mean for Tim and I.  Will it mean we are still living in Florence, just working for another company?  Or will it mean picking up our family and taking our journey to somewhere new?  I wish I knew, but only time will tell.  We will wait and see where God leads our family.  I'm sure it will be to somewhere good.  While we wait though, we're scared... at least I am.  I think God would be OK with that.

Shortly we will begin to see friends leave.  The people I have worked with for the past 7 1/2 years have become more like family than colleagues.  Some of them will be asked to leave.  Some will leave due to the uncertainty.  Either way, it will be hard to see them go.  I'm dreading it.  Please pray for all of my colleagues as they find their way in this journey and find where God is leading their families.  Right now, it's not seeming like a good place - I pray that it ends up being good for each and every one of them.

I told Tim yesterday that it's so hard to be thankful for what you have, when it seems like a huge portion of what you have could quickly be stripped away.  That is hard.  But, I still have my job right now, and for that, I'm thankful.  It's likely that both Tim and I are secure for a relatively decent period of time.  For that I am thankful.  I'm thankful for my family.  I'm thankful for an optimist husband.  I'm the realist wife.  It's actually a good combination in times like this.  I'm thankful for Cameron.  My helpful child.  I'm thankful for Anna - my generous child.  I'm thankful for Sara - my happy little chatterbox.  I'm thankful for my mom and Denis who have been willing to help at a moments notice recently.  I'm thankful for MY God who will carry our family through this.

Please keep us in your prayers as we make our way through these uncertain times.

In Christ,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back to work

With a very heavy heart, I headed back to work today.  It was very difficult for me.  I got all of Sara's things packed up to take with her, and it felt like I was moving her out of the house.... Getting ready for work this morning I was stressed.  I wanted to throw up and I cried more than once.  I didn't want to go back.  I didn't want to leave Sara.  I was sure after all the bonding we did, that the daycare people would just undo it all!  What if she hated it?  What would I do then?

Well, time kept ticking by and needless to say it got to the point where I had to go into work.  We stopped by Sara's child care first.  I wish I could send all the kids to the same place, but Cameron and Anna's school does not start childcare until 3K.  So, Sara couldn't go there.  We did find a wonderful place for her to go though.  So, we pulled into the childcare facility.  I hugged her tighter than I think I have every hugged her before.  I took all of her things into the classroom and started organizing her things in her cubby and telling the teachers what she liked, didn't like and how she is using the potty now.  I had put Sara down and started to show her around the room.  Well, she clung to my legs.  In a way, that made me feel good.  But then, one of the childcare providers came up and started interacting with her and Sara decided to go with her.  As they were exploring, I stepped out. There were no tears - well, not for Sara anyway.  I felt like I was leaving my little girl!  When I got back in the car, Cameron asked why I was crying.  I said "I cried for you, I cried for Anna, it is only fitting that I cry for Sara as well".  I knew she was in good hands or I would not have left her there, but I wanted her with me!

I managed to keep myself from calling until around 11:00.  the childcare director took my call and I asked her how Sara was doing.  She said she was doing wonderfully!  She said she had poked her head in several times and she seemed very content and happy.  She also said that ever since we notified them that we were going to place Sara there, and then when we were going to get her, that they prayed for her at staff meetings.  They prayed for the transition of her into our family and for all of our safe travels.  She said everyone poked their head in to see Sara today because they desperately wanted to see the child they had been praying for.  Everyone fell in love with her!  It was SO good to hear!

Tim had to go out of town this week, so I had to do the first day of child care on my own.  Cameron and Anna understood the stress of sending her off, so they helped me out a TON this morning and also this evening.  Cameron wanted me to have a "relaxing" evening after my stressful morning this morning, so he basically took over the house.  It gave me time to play a little with Sara.

This evening I realized that Sara loves to have her head scratched after I take out her pony tails in the evening.  Not really scratched, but rubbed with my fingernails.... I love that feeling too.  I also found out that my baby girl likes reese's peanut butter cups!  She will immediately sit on the kitchen floor with her mouth open like a bird when she sees me get one out.  She knows she has to be sitting to eat and it has to be in the kitchen!

All in all, after my initial heartbreak this morning, it ended up being an ok day.  Sara loved day care.  They said she did not cry at all the entire day, and that she used the potty all day long!  Horray for that!  They were thrilled with her and I'm thrilled with them!  Getting the first day out of the way is the hardest....

If you stop by and read this, leave me a comment.  I love to read all of your comments and if you have a blog, leave me information on your blog.  I have decided I need to add to my blog list.  I want to keep up with some families who are just starting out on their adoption journeys... I need to read stories to keep this magical feeling alive in me regarding adoption.  Every story is a miracle unfolding.  So, read, comment and leave me your blog address.  Even if you don't have a blog, leave me a comment.  Let me know what you want to know about... otherwise, I just keep writing about life - it's what I know!

Surprisingly enough, this is one happy, blessed mom at the end of what started out as a pretty rough day!

Praise God for the child care that I have and the children that only HE gave me!  I truly am blessed!

In Christ,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Look what happened today....

They say that kids will make liars out of you.... well, I guess that is true.  Remember the post yesterday where I said that Sara didn't like Pearl.  Well, look what I found today....

Sara decided to climb up on Pearl's mat and hang out with her this morning.  It was so cute.  I heard some babbling and I went and looked and there Sara was - hanging out on the corner of Pearl's mat talking to her.  For the girl who screamed every time Pearl walked by, this was amazing.  I think these two are going to end up being best buddies!

In Christ,

Monday, November 8, 2010

The things I have learned

Now that we are home, I am really beginning to learn about Sara's likes and dislikes - and basically just about her in general.  It was very hard to determine her personality sitting in a hotel room with very little to do with a toddler.  Besides that, everyone was tired and it was difficult just to make it thru the day, let alone really absorb my new daughter.  But since I have been home, I have found out a lot about Ms. Sara Joy:

She is shy.  She is quiet around new people and only opens up when she is really comfortable.  There is no pushing her into doing anything or interacting with anyone she does not want to.  She just won't do it.

She has bonded really well with her momma!  I've been doing most of the care giving, so that's understandable.  Tim has offered to help, but Sara is a bit more comfortable with me right now.  Tim understands this and really just wants Sara to be content, so he is waiting patiently.  Also, Tim leaves in a week to go to Basel and I will be home by myself with her this week while Tim is at work and then next week while he is in Basel, so it was very important for her to get comfortable with me.

Sara loves her brother and sister.  It didn't take her long to warm up to Cameron and Anna.  I think it was because they are kids.  She is used to all sorts of kids.  Plus they are a little darker complected, so it's more along the lines of what she is used to.  No matter what the reason, she loves them.  AND... they are both SMITTEN by her.  Even Cameron.  It really surprised me.  I was sure Anna would be in love with her, but I figured Cameron, being 11, would be a bit disinterested.  Nope, he is in love with her.  It's so sweet to see him help her up and down stairs and make sure she doesn't get hurt.  Anna would love to change her diaper... not sure I'm up for that one yet!

Sara is an EXCELLENT sleeper.  After just two nights AND the change for daylight savings time, she is on a normal schedule.  She goes to sleep around 7:30 or 8:00 and will sleep until about 6:00.  Perfect!

Sara wakes up happy!  She gets out of bed easily and likes to chatter right after waking up.

She LOVES her bath. 

She LOVES to eat.  We're working with her on eating too much.  They fed her a TON at the orphanage.

She is happy when her belly is full.

She likes to wander around the house - she has already figured out which room is hers and the fact that this is where she can sleep, play and where her toys are.

She is a helper.  She picks things up constantly to give them to you.

She understands a TON of English.  She did not hear much of it at the transition home, so she clearly picked up on it quickly. 

She likes grandma's chicken noodle soup - well everything but the chicken.  She spit that out.

She LOVES, LOVES, LOVES bananas.

She does not like Pearl - she is finally to the point of tollerating her.  You can see progress every day.

She does not like the cats, but does like them more than Pearl.

She does NOT like the swings at the park.

She LOVES to walk outside. 

She responds to "Sara".  When I call her she will say "huh".  I'll have to work on her manners :)

She enjoys being outside.

She falls alseep in an instant.  She will cry for less than one minute and then she is out.

She is a WIGGLER in bed.  I mean ALL OVER THE PLACE.

She doesn't like to get her teeth brushed.  Probably just not used to it.

She likes to be active.

She actually likes to snuggle, but on her terms, not yours.

She helps you get her dressed.  She puts her arms in the sleeves and her legs in the pant holes and holds her feet out to put on her socks.  Too cute!

It has been very interesting since we have been home learning all about this little girl.  I'm sure it's just the tip of the iceberg!

In Christ,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

We are HOME!!!

After about 27 hours of travel, we finally made it home yesterday afternoon at about 3:30 with Sara Joy!  It was an absolutely amazing adventure to say the least.  I see the work of God ALL OVER this adoption.  It gives me chills to think of all the ways I have seen God work in my heart during this process, and to just watch His perfect plan unfold.  Everything that happened, He knew.  Everything that happened was in his control.  Everything that happened was for His purpose.  Everything that happened was perfect.

I wish I would have had the opportunity to update while we were in country... but the internet connection was intermittent at best.  Some times it was completely non-existent.  I was also focused on bonding with this incredible little girl.  I was so focused on her, that I didn't even get a single picture.  I know... I'm a bad mom.  I was focused on remembering the moment in my head - which in my mind is more important than getting it on my camera memory card.

We arrived there late Sunday night.  We were able to take our two totes.  There is an interesting story behind that... they almost charged us $150 for one extra tote.  I saw God work in that.  (He was working on my patience at that point).  Finally, we were able to convince the person behind the counter that there was not $150 worth of stuff in the tote and it was insane for me to pay that much - especially when the cost of the extra tote would have only been $25 or $50 if we paid it in Columbia.  BUT, the person in Columbia told us there was no charge for the tote because tags were printed without a charge.  When we got to Washington they wanted to charge us.  When I asked how much they said $150.  I nearly had a heart attack.  Anyway, after waiting three hours to talk to someone (someone who said I was not being patient - really, THREE HOURS is not patient???) they finally said that we did not have to pay for the tote.  Thankfully Kelly and Matt saved us some overhead compartment space because we were the last people on the plane and it was full.  We got settled in for the long ride, and were on our way.

We arrived Sunday night and got settled into the hotel.  All of our baggage and totes arrived so we were set.  All we had to do was go to sleep and in the morning we would get Sara.

Monday morning we went to the transition home and picked up Sara.  Once again, she was not thrilled to see us, but adjusted quickly.  I was surprised when we left with her, that she was fine with it.  We rode over to the hotel and got to know each other.  It was interesting.  She didn't really like me, but she liked me a little bit more than Tim.  I chalk that up to the fact that there were women who took care of her, not men.  She eventually would let Tim interact with her, but it took some time.  When she needed to be put to sleep, she wanted me, and I was fine with that.  We basically spent the day in the hotel.  She eats and sleeps well.  We will have to change some of her eating habits, but that will happen over time.  It has already started to happen.

Tuesday we went to the orphanage.  We took a tote of donations over there.  The nannies were THRILLED.  Thank you to all who donated each and every item.  They were happy with them all!  We received several monetary donations, and the night before we left, we took the kids to tar.get and split up the money and let them each pick things for the kids from the baby aisles (diaper cream, lotion, tylenol, stickers, coloring books, baby food, thermometers... things like that).  We had a BUNCH to take and as I said, they were thrilled.

Anyway, before going over to the orphanage, I did Sara's hair.  I attempted to do it the way it was when I picked her up on Monday - simply because I knew of no other way.  Apparently, even though I thought I did a decent job, with a child who was screaming and moving around while I was trying to do her hair, they didn't think so.  After ooohhhing and aaahhhing over her (they really did seem happy to see her again) we were upstairs playing with the other children and I looked over and they were taking Sara's hair ponytails out and were redoing it :)  Oh well.... I've gotten better at it now and have actually gotten compliments on it :)

My favorite little orphan girl (besides Sara, who is NO LONGER AN ORPHAN :) ) was there - Kalkatu.  I noticed her right away by her big huge smile and her little tongue just sticking out!!!  She smiled so big at me and then fell into my arms.  She did the same with Tim.  I'm telling you, if I didn't know any better, it would have seemed like God was telling me to take this little one too.  She was just attracted to Tim and I like a little magnet.  I think though, that this is it for Tim and I.  I know I said before that I wanted another, but I think that we have hit the balance square on the head with the addition of Sara to our family.  It is important to me to have enough time for each child in our home, and as much as I would love another, I think God has given me peace that this is enough.  We'll see if that changes over time, but Tim and I actually talked about it before we left, and while we were there.  We'll leave it in God's hands, but right now, He seems to be telling both of us that this is the number for our family.

We were very surprised to learn that Sara loves to take a bath.  When I put her in the tub, I thought she would scream... but she did just the opposite.  It was like she has lived in the water and it was her second home.  She absolutely LOVED it.  We brought some bath toys with us, so she enjoyed playing with those. 

Wednesday we met up with Craig and Amanda Dyson.  They are missionaries living just outside of Addis Ababa.  The church we used to attend supports them and I learned of them thru there.  They are two very wonderful people.  I am not one to venture out and meet people, but I am SO glad that I did.  Amanda was very sweet.  They have a little boy Jackson, who was adopted domestically and we got to meet him as well.  They were so willing to help us in any way that they could.  They took us to some shops that they knew were reputable and we were able to get some last minute things that we wanted to bring home.  Amanda even gave me a gift - and Ethiopian scarf, some coffee, tea and a bracelet.  It was so very thoughtful.  After shopping we went to the Island Breeze restraunt.  It is safe American food.  They had the best pizza I have had in a long time.  It was very nice to spend time with them. 

Thursday we had our Embassy appointment.  When we got there, we waited for our turn, but as we were waiting, a man came out and said that the computers were down and they didn't know when they would be back up.  They said everyone should leave - except those who were adopting.  Thank goodness, because we had to have our embassy appt that day in order to get our Visa on Friday and leave on time.  They could not guarantee that the computers would be up and running, but they would do their best to make sure we were able to leave on Friday.  I put it all in God's hands and felt secure in the fact that He would get us home!

We passed our embassy appointment with no problem.  After embassy we went to the Family Restaurant for dinner / ice cream.  I had wanted ice cream since Monday night and no one had any. When we saw an ad for this place and they had ice cream, the whole group went over for dinner and to celebrate!

Friday morning we were to go back to the transition home at 11:00 to pick up our Visas if they were indeed ready.  Thankfully, they were.  We got our visas and then went back to the hotel and had lunch.  After lunch we packed up and just hung out with Sara until 7:00 when we headed to the airport for the journey home.

If you are friends with me on Facebook, I was able to update a couple of times and in one of my updates I told of an interesting turn of events....here is the story.

When we were given Sara's referral, we were told that she was 14 months old.  Which would now make her 18 months.  We were given a birth date of April 16th.  When we got her paper work, it said she was born October 24th - which puts her at just over 12 months.  It is clearly not the case.  We were told though, that we had to answer things at the embassy just like what we had in the paperwork.  I have pictures of her from before October 24th - I have some from as early as early September and she was clearly about 4 - 5 months old then, if not even a bit older.  I wanted to joke that it was nice for them to send me the 3D ultrasounds because they were so realistic - I just wonder how the nanny holding her got into the womb as well.  But, I kept it to myself.  I talked to Tim about the fact that we were possibly going to have to address this at the embassy and I didn't want to lie.  Again, I left it in God's hands.  I could say that "we were given information that she was born Oct. 24th" and that would not be lying, but that would not be telling the entire truth either.  I actually got an upset stomach over it.

When our time came for our embassy interview, I was very nervous.  God was in control... that was all I could tell myself.  I really did not want to have to lie to get my daughter out of the country though.  I was nearly shaking.  The gentleman started asking us questions - did we meet Sara before court, was this the child we met, what did we know about her family... and then he said, well, Sara was checked out by a US doctor working in Addis and he feels as though Sara is more like 18 months than 12 months.  Do you have a problem with this?  I nearly started crying.  God took care of it!  I didn't have to worry!  We had a very open discussion with the gentleman and he said it was no problem at all, that birth records in Ethiopia are not like they are in the US.  Also, there are often translation errors made.  Just so long as she fell into our home study range (and she did) we were fine as long as we were ok with an 18 month old.  We were MORE THAN OK - that was what we expected!  Thank you God for working that out for us!

Sara did excellent on the trip home.  She is very attached to me and insisted that I attend to her the entire time. Tim was great about it and offered to help, but I just needed to keep her from screaming on the plane, so I dealt with her.  She rode in her car seat well (for the very first time!) on the way home from the airport and then came home to meet Cameron, Anna, Grandma and Denis.  She warmed up to all of them right away.  She has a special love for Cameron and Anna it seems.

Well, Sara is about to wake from a nap and Cameron would like to get on this computer, so I need to stop writing.  Needless to say, we are THRILLED with Sara and how she has adjusted to our family.  We are all totally in love with her. 

Thank you for all of your prayers through this journey.  I have so much more to share and will do it over the next few days.

In Christ,