Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fun in the Snow!

OK, so I'd rather be warm, but you can't do this kind of stuff when it's nice and toasty outside. I know I'll get tired of having the snow around, but for now I'm thinking these little guys are lovin' it!

- Dave

Monday, December 7, 2009

We Have Liftoff!

Charis has decided to become mobile...just in time for Christmas so she can crawl around the Christmas trees and yank ornaments down! We're always scrambling around chasing after her so she doesn't cram something in her mouth or take a dive on the many stairs we have in our house. Maybe Charis will get some baby gates for Christmas! She'll only be 10 months old...she won't care. We'll have a lot of explaining to do when she's older and sees the pictures of her sweet presents from 2009 though!

- Dave

Friday, November 20, 2009

Family Pics

Got our family photos. Our worship pastor and pro photographer Matt Paddack took these for us. He did a great job of capturing the girls' beauty. Here are some of my favorites.


Monday, November 16, 2009

An Inside Look

Here's a few videos of the girls adjusting to living in the U.S.

Hope you enjoy!

- Dave

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Two Months and Counting

We are having such a great time with our girls. We're becoming more and more like family every day.

I've started trying some things with Jacee's hair. It is still really short and super curly, so I am very proud of my first attempts at ponytails. They make her feel pretty, so I'm glad to put them in.

We had fun during the Halloween season, even though I'm always glad when Halloween is over b/c of all the yuck that comes with it. Kids love it, though.

David's parents are visiting. We are not coffee drinkers, so we never have coffee around. Jacee has said several times, "I like coffee." We've wondered if she realizes what coffee is and if she's really had it. Being from Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, we figured she very well could have. Since David's parents drink coffee, we decided to give her a little bit to see what her reaction would be. Sure enough, she drank it down and said, "I like coffee." The girl has definitely had coffee. However, I don't think we'll be giving her much over the next several years.

Whenever any of us is on the floor, Chelsea is right up on us. This is a common sight to see Chelsea and Charis hanging out together.

The girls have a lot of fun together.

Charis has started sucking her thumb. Hopefully it won't turn into a problem.

The next post will probably have our family photos that were taken last week. You're gonna love 'em; the girls are gorgeous!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Good News and Frustration

After all the tests on both the girls has come back and everything is normal...with one exception. Charis had the BCG shot sometime while in Ethiopia to help eliminate the chance of her developing TB. So when she went to get her TB test it came back as a false positive and we had to get the chest x-ray (came back normal) and now they have to treat it. The treatment? 9 months of antibiotics! We're totally glad that she does not have the disease, but frustrated to put her on the meds for something she most likely doesn't have. Anyone else have to do this that adopted from Ethiopia?

I guess it's all part of the journey but I'll tell you this: If you have an HSA and are adopting I highly suggest you start dropping some serious coin in the account because you'll need it. Those lab tests were ridiculously expensive!

Other than that all is well on the home front and we're getting family pictures taken tomorrow. Come back for a visit to see!

- Dave

Friday, October 9, 2009

Monkeys & Snow


Soon after we got Jacee home, we had to buy bedrails because she fell out of her bed a couple times. She has always slept in the upper left side of the bed. I assumed this was because she had shared a bed with several kids at the orphanage, and that became her "spot". We've been trying to get her to learn to sleep in the middle of the bed so we can eventually remove the rails. We have her move to the middle, but she always ends up back in her "spot, "crammed against the bedrail.

A couple nights ago, I decided to try a new approach. I put a pillow on the left side, forcing her over toward the right. She got a concerned look on her face and said, "No! Monkeys!" while pointing at the window on the right side of the bed. After a few minutes of discussion, I came to the understanding that when she was in Africa, monkeys would come in through the window at night, get into the families food, and make a mess. Jacee's still working on English, but this appears to be a genuine concern based on past experience. I look forward to asking her about this when she is older to see if monkeys really did come in their house.

I assured her that no monkeys could get in the house. She slept fine and left the pillow on the left side while she slept closer to the right. Again tonight we had the discussion about monkeys, but I think she understands now that no monkeys can get in the house. David had the idea to put on an ape mask and wake her up during the night, but we decided that wouldn't be a good idea.



This morning I told Jacee to take Chelsea (the dog) downstairs and outside. Before long, she was back in my bedroom...

J: Mom. Trees.
Me: Trees? (Then I remembered. The forecast had said there could be snow). Trees white?
J: No. Blue. (She then pointed to something that is white. Okay, so we're still working on colors).
Me: That's white. Are the trees white?
J: Yes, trees white.

I went down and looked. Yup, snow. October 10th. Crazy. And it's quite a bit of snow.
We bundled up the older girls and David took them and Chelsea sledding for a bit.
Aside from the crying spell from cold hands, Jacee enjoyed her first experience with "sah-noh."

Monday, October 5, 2009

God's Not Fair

Well, we haven't posted much lately. I'm not sure if people are checking in or not [Hi, Erica! I know you are.] We plan to get family pics done soon, but for now, here are a few we've taken at home.

Before jumping in, I thought I'd explain the girls' names. We named our four-year-old Jacee. It's pronounced like Stacy, with the emphasis on the first syllable. We kept her original Ethiopian name, Zemenesh, for her middle name. We named our 7-month-old Charis, as in charismatic without the "matic." Charis means "grace" in Greek. She really had turned out to be a little gift of grace, an extra blessing after beginning this journey with the plan to adopt one child, and such a joy. Her middle name is Takelech, which is her birth name.

The past few weeks have gone better than we could have hoped. Our girls are incredibly sweet and frankly, pretty easy. Is this how international adoption is supposed to be? We were told that Jacee is quite shy. Not so. She is outgoing and has a great sense of humor. Laughter is a huge value in our family, and Jacee, in all her silliness, has been a perfect fit. Charis is pretty much happy and content all the time (except when she's hungry or has Swine Flu--or whatever flu this is), and loves to watch all the craziness. She's sitting like a pro (so we don't mind that Chelsea the dog uses the Boppie). Davi is having a great time with new sisters--not always using the best judgment, but nobody's been killed yet. All of a sudden she seems so grown up to me.

We feel so privileged to have these three girls. When I consider that God placed these girls in our family--not any other children, but THESE girls--I am so humbled and grateful. It's not fair. Why should we be so blessed? Why does He give such incredible gifts? We don't deserve them, but oh, we are thankful for them. We belong to such a gracious God who, thank goodness, doesn't give us what we deserve. Not just in eternal life (which is HUGE in and of itself), but in the blessings throughout this life.

- Gina

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You Can Take the Child Out of Ethiopia, But You Can't Take Ethiopia Out of the Child

Let's see...where to start? This week was filled with firsts for our new additions. They had their first experience with:

* Walmart
* Their pediatrician
* Culvers
* Fast-flow nipples (parents getting babies in Ethiopia, buy these!)
* Riding a trike
* Going to the park (Jacee loves the swing. Charis...not so much)
* Hectors Mexican food (kids can eat some spicy stuff!)
* Picking up/dropping off Davi @ school
* Our church

Jacee is picking up English pretty well and parrots much of what we say. Charis isn't really doing that great with it yet. Maybe it's because she's only about 7 months so we'll cut her a little slack and give it some time. The other day Gina got home from being out with our two new girls and our dog Chelsea met them at the door and Jacee responded, "Hi Chelsea!" Davi, our oldest, has been a HUGE help with the girls by playing with them, loving on them, and teaching them English.

The jet-lag didn't take too long to get over and the girls have done a pretty good job adjusting to the time change. Now if we can just keep Jacee from falling out of her bed everyone can sleep through the night! We purchased bed rails today so that ought to corral the little bugger and give her a full nights sleep without being awakened by the pounding of her body on the floor!

Now...for the title of the blog. In Ethiopia as you're driving around it's not uncommon to see various aged children wandering around on the side of the road and squatting to use the street as a bathroom. Just a few moments ago Jacee used the backyard in a way that seemed familiar to her...glad to know she's feeling like she's home! Oh, we'll be keeping the new shoes we bought today too as they're not really returnable any longer.

Better go for now...Charis is in her Bumbo seat and has had her limit.

- Dave

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back From the Other Side of the World

Well, it's about 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning and I (David) am sitting here with our little 6 month old finally able to post on our blog. High speed internet isn't quite the same in Ethiopia and I was unable to access our blog there. Well, after some grueling travel we finally made it home on Monday, August 24th at around noon to some family and friends at the airport. It was so great to have so many come out and meet our new girls. It meant so much to us and I'm sure will be meaningful to the girls when they're older and they see the pictures and hear the story of so many that were excited to welcome them home.

We're adjusting well and are looking forward to finding the rut as a family of 5. It's just so nice to finally be home and done with all the waiting, wondering, and what-if's. Not that much is all that stable right now with two new nuggets in the family, but I must say it's nice to not have to worry about paperwork expiring!

Charis (6 month old) is doing well. She did some serious sleeping yesterday. I'm sure all the travel, noise, and new smells and sights just wore her out. She's a great baby and is generally pretty quiet unless she's hungry. She's a smiley little one and loves to shove whatever is in reach in to her mouth. So nice to see her in her crib yesterday.

Jacee (4 year old) is doing well also. She opened up so much over the last couple days and has been quite chatty. She's digging being here because it's like Toys R Us with all the stuff we have around here from when Davi was little. We're planning on going to the park today to work on the gross motor skills department. With so many kids in the transition home they just don't have much time to play, run, jump, and develop in areas we're so used to here in the States. She's come a long way already though. When we first got her she had difficulty just going up a few stairs b/c her muscles were so tiny. She's heading up our stairs like a champ now.

Davi is doing well and adjusting to life as a big sister. She's been such a huge help through the transition time. Jacee follows her around and mimicks her every move. Not sure if she'll go to school today or not...depends on how she looks when she gets up today. She hit the hay around 7:30 last night so she's going on 9 hours of sleep and counting!

Gina and I are doing well. So nice to sleep in our own bed and not have to worry about a long flight or wondering if we packed everything we needed.

Well, here's a few pictures of the day we met the girls and some other assorted images of our time in Ethiopia. We'll post again soon.


Saturday, August 15, 2009


Our flight out of Omaha was delayed, so we had to make a run for it in Atlanta. Davi and Gina ran ahead to try to get the Rome flight held a couple minutes while David waited for the carry-ons that were stowed below and then made the run himself. The "gate-keeper" kept threatening to close the gate, and finally Davi spotted David running down the hallway.
We've enjoyed Rome--got to see some amazing sights. Davi got sick the second morning and tossed her cookies a few times. She recovered by early afternoon and did great doing some sight-seeing. We returned to our hotel and discovered something very valuable to Davi, something she has kept with her since she was a baby, was snatched up with the sheets and taken out to a laundry service. It has not been recovered yet, but we're still praying.
We're up until our flight leaves at 1:15 tonight. We had to check out of the hotel at noon, did a little more sight-seeing, then came back to wait out the time in the hotel lobby until our flight.
We see our girls in two days! Crazy.
Ciao until Ethiopia!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We're Off!

We're finally traveling to get our precious girls! Davi's first day of school is today, so she is going for a couple hours before we snatch her up and head to the airport. Today we'll fly to Atlanta, then on to Rome. We've heard people say it's really beneficial to get acclimated to the time change before going into Ethiopia (a third world country) and going through the stresses (mostly GOOD stresses) of adoption details. The plane to Ethiopia stops in Rome to re-fuel, so we're getting off for a bit :) We're staying a couple nights in Rome (as are some other families with our adoption agency), then heading to Ethiopia just after midnight on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

We get to meet our girls next Monday, and we pick them up for keeps on Tuesday!!! We then have a few days of paperwork, etc., and fly out of Addis Ababa on Saturday night. We'll stay the night in Washington DC and be back in Omaha on the 24th.

Of course, all this assumes everything goes as planned. We know better than to think things can't change :)

For our friends in Omaha -- Thanks so much for your excitement in our girls' home-coming. For the first few weeks, we'll be working really hard at helping the girls attach to us and come to know us as their parents, so I'm sorry that we won't be able to pass them around to be held. Our four-year-old is quite shy, also, so she will likely want to stay pretty close to Mom and Dad.

We might not be able to blog much or at all, but we'll try. We're not bringing our computer.

Please pray for our trip. Pray for the girls as they have so many changes and adjustments coming their way. This will likely be very difficult for them. Pray for us to know how to help them with this transition.

Please also pray for health and safety. We have travel insurance and tons of meds with us, but we know our only trust is in God Who is bringing us through this journey.

Thanks for supporting us through this incredible adventure.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Davi Tastes Success -- I Eat Crow

The other day, Davi and her friend Katie decided they wanted to have a water balloon stand. They would be selling water balloons for 25 cents each. Trying to protect my little girl from disappointment, I basically said, "No one is going to buy water balloons, Honey. You can try to sell them, but don't be upset when no one buys any." She and Katie got to work on their water balloon stand, despite my words of warning.

After a few minutes into making the sign for the stand, Davi got the idea, "Hey, we could use the money for our adoption."

I think this is about where God showed up.

The girls ran outside and returned a few minutes later with three quarters. Katie's grandma who lives across the street gave them the money. I had to admit to them, "Okay, I was wrong. People will buy water balloons."

They were now inspired and planning to go door-to-door. We told them they could only go to people we knew. At some point, they decided to ditch the whole water balloon idea and just ask for donations straight up. As we saw the money start coming in, David suggested the money be used for the orphans still in Ethiopia rather than for our adoption. Now they were asking for donations for orphans in Ethiopia.

After hitting a few houses up and down the street, they ended up with $77.55!

We will be shopping this week for gifts for the orphans.

On a personal note, I am humbled. I should know better than to tell anyone, "That can't be done." As believers, we are to be risk-takers. Even though I didn't know the original water balloon business was headed toward Kingdom purposes, I am reminded to not discourage my kids from trying new things, especially if it's just to avoid failure and disappointment. Good lesson for me. I pray Davi will be inspired with what God can do through her when she does take a risk.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

July Update and Travel Plans

We got new pics and some updated info on our new daughters today. They continue to get more and more beautiful. We feel so blessed that God has placed these girls in our family. He is so gracious! We can hardly wait to get to them.

The plan is to fly out of Omaha on August 12th. We're still working on travel arrangements. Everything looks fine getting to Addis, but getting out is a little hairy. We're waitlisted for a flight on Friday (21st) and a flight on Saturday (22nd). We'd really like to get out on Friday, but to get out at all would be great:) Until we have a flight confirmed to get out of Ethiopia, we can't make our final arrangements. Please pray for all this to come together well.


Friday, July 24, 2009

A Family of Five!!!

Woo hoo! We got a call this morning from our agency with good news. We passed court! Everything went smoothly with the case while we slept last night (Friday for them), and now these beautiful girls are joining our family.

These pictures are some that we got with our referral. We will let you know more about their names and show more recent pics later.

Praise God with us!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Try Again Next Week

Well, this week has come and gone. The birth mom was not able to make it to Addis Ababa this week, so we're hoping for a successful court hearing sometime next week.

On another note, people have been getting court dates in August, so this is a good sign that courts will not be closing for August and September. Great news for all the waiting families and children.

Hope to have good news for you regarding our case soon!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Is Our God Moving a Mountain?

Ever since we did not pass court, our agency has been trying to get us another court date. While it is necessary to have a recommendation from MOWA in order to have court (and remember, MOWA has closed for a spell, so no one is getting new recommendations), the recommendation we got for our first court date is still good b/c we didn't actually fail court but rather were never given a hearing. On Thursday, the court finally said, "Bring her [the birth mom] in next week and we'll have court." No scheduled appointment. No specific day. Just show up and they will have court! This is such good news. We could pass court this week and be able to travel in August! The two-month court closures would not even impact us b/c we would already be through that part of the process.

We were deflated earlier in the week when it looked like we would be waiting until at least October to pass court, and we were confused because we had seen the process begin moving at incredible speed (after so much time of feeling like we were standing still) that we attribute to God moving. Now we are again seeing how the details of our circumstances have lined up perfectly for us to fast track it to our girls. I think we may be seeing the hand of God work on our behalf, and we're giving Him all the credit.

Please pray that the birth mom is able to travel this week, that the judge does in fact give us a hearing, and that we pass. On a more important level, please pray for our girls' continued health and safety. We are reminded this week how fragile these children are and the limitations there are in Ethiopia as a third-world country.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sweet Julianna

We will post more on our adoption later. We have some encouraging news related to our case.

Today, however, we grieve with our good friends the Reeds, whose precious baby girl Julianna died today, just weeks before her new family could travel to get her. Julianna was brought into the Reed family officially on July 6th. She did not die an orphan, but the dearly loved child of a family who would sacrifice everything for her.

Please pray for Erica, Jason, and their sweet son Ashton.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More Deflating News

We've been holding out for a new court date, but it looks like it won't be coming very soon. The organization in Ethiopia that is in charge of adoptions (MOWA) is closing until July 23rd. We don't know for sure if the Ethiopian courts will close due to the rainy season, but another adoption agency posted that the courts will indeed close early August through the end of September. This means there is a very short window of opportunity for us to get an appeal on our court date and get a new court date scheduled. And of course we would have to pass court, which is not a guarantee. It sounds like a backlog of cases is finally making it to the courts, which is great for many families who have had to wait on abandonment investigations. However, I have my doubts that we will be among the families who are able to get through during the short period between MOWA's re-opening and the courts closing. I assume we'll be traveling October or later. If we reach November, we'll have been in the adoption process for three years.

We would appreciate your prayers for us and for our girls.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

We Didn't Pass

Since the birth mom was late to the appointment the day before, the judge wouldn't even listen to her testimony at the second hearing. Even our agency was surprised by this and said the judge seemed to be in a bad mood. For us, this means we didn't pass court. It will be rescheduled, we hope sooner than later. For the birth mom, I guess it means she will be sent the five hours back home and will have to return at a later court date.

Of course we're disappointed and sad. But we know that our God is trustworthy, so we'll wait to see what He has in mind.

Thanks for your prayers.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Court Date Rescheduled for Tomorrow

We did not pass court last night because the birth mom did not arrive on time. No telling how she had to travel in order to get there, but I can imagine it would be hard to travel for many people. Since she did show and was only late, our court was rescheduled for tomorrow morning (while we're sleeping tonight). Had she not shown at all, we would have had to wait who-knows-how-long for another court date. So we're thankful.

Thanks for your prayer for tomorrow morning. If you don't mind praying before you go to bed tonight, we would appreciate it. We'll keep you posted.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Betcha 50 Bucks...

Below is a link to a video. Watch it and I'll bet you 50 bucks there are kids that pop up on there that you could totally see being in your family! Just a subtle way to get people thinking about investing what God has entrusted to them to impact the world.

Oh, we got our tentative travel dates yesterday! July 18th is the day if we pass court on June 30th. Please pray that everything goes smoothly! We'll post and let everyone know what's up.

- Dave

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Court Date! - Sooner Than Expected

OK, this is all happening so fast! We got our referral call for siblings a couple weeks ago, officially accepted the referral this week, went ahead with scheduling our court date with acceptance pending on a few test results, and now we have our court date scheduled for June 30th. Whoa! Usually families are informed 2-4 weeks after referral about when their court date will be...not 1 week! And we were told to expect a court date 8-12 weeks after receiving a referral. Ours is four weeks. So, this is exciting! One important piece is that 40% of families do not pass court the first go, so it may get rescheduled 1-1.5 months from then. Please pray that we pass b/c we may fall into the season where the courts close during August, September, and part of October, and could not travel until late fall. If we do pass the first time we would be traveling sometime in July or early August.

Please also pray for some paperwork adjustments that need to be made. Our original homestudy approved us for a sibling set up to 50 months. We'll need to change that to reflect the age range and delays in paperwork can also delay your travel. So, please pray that goes smoothly as well.

More to come...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Referral! - Sooner Than Expected

Although we had expected to wait 10-12 months (the average) to get a referral, our referral has come at 7 months! We had been hoping for a sibling group, even though it is very rare that a referral for healthy, young siblings comes up. We got a call last Friday from our agency. They said a sibling group had come up that was a little outside the ages we requested (14-36 months) and wondered if we were interested. We were assured that we would not lose our place in line if we decided to wait for a child who was within the parameters we requested. We prayed about it over the weekend and felt like this could very well be God's plan for us.

On Monday we accepted the referral and got to see pictures of the girls. They are beautiful! One is four years old, and the other is three months old! We are thrilled! And we feel extremely blessed.

Now we wait for a court date. We hope to get a date soon, to pass court the first time (30% do not pass the first go round), and to be able to travel before the courts shut down in the early fall due to the rainy season.

We're grateful for your prayer for us and our girls!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fall Maybe?

So we're in the waiting mode right now. Still. As we've been watching what's going on in the world of adoption with Ethiopia, we anticipate being able to head overseas in late fall of this year, or maybe winter.

Of course, there's really no telling how things will go. Many people are choosing Ethiopia for their adoption because it is one of the only foreign countries in which the adoption process is somewhat predictable and reasonable (as well as one of the few that is helping their children find homes). This means longer wait times, but at least more Ethiopian children are being adopted.

So, we wait in Nebraska, hoping not to have to update our USCIS status again. We would love to see the timing of the process pick up, but we're realistic. If someone had told us when we started that our adoption would take 3 years or longer, we never would have believed it. Nowdays, we know there may be more waiting and we'll survive it. We're not the only ones in this boat. Like the rest, we're anxious to see who God will be placing in our family, when He decides to.


Oh yeah, we adopted a puppy on January 1st. That's been nice for our family.