"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:3-6

Friday, March 29, 2013

Today's Purchase

Friday is grocery shopping day around here, so I picked up some more items for the trip! It was recommended to me to bring Starbucks VIA, the instant coffee. Now, I thought we were going to a place so well known for their fabulous coffee, but I will take the word of the parents that have gone before us and take the VIA. It was on sale and I had a coupon, so I figured it was a good time to try it. Otherwise, I may have just passed it up. But then I think of how I'm going to need my coffee and am very glad I have it. But I promise, first I will try to soak up the culture by drinking Ethiopian coffee before breaking open the Starbucks;)

Also bought lots of protein bars, which were recommended if we want to snack between meals. Since both us love to snack and both of us are always hungry, I got plenty! I wonder what snacks they have available when we are there? I know there won't be a Taco Bell on the corner, but maybe a gas station with some pretzels? I have no idea!

The most exciting item is the Johnson's baby lotion :) Shea and cocoa butter is what a fellow adoptive mama who just brought her son home said that she loves to use on him. I am so beyond emotions to have this lotion. It represents the touching I will get to do with my baby girl. Baby massage is such a good form of bonding because it promotes such interaction and eye contact. I cannot wait to lather her up and kiss her ten little toes, give her zerberts on her belly, and tickle her neck.

This morning when I woke up at 7:30am, my first thought was that next Friday when the clock reads 7:30am, Lord willing, we will be landing on African soil and are just minutes (ok, probably hours since we have to get luggage, visas, find our director, and drive to the transition home) until we will see our sweet Elliana!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

She is Growing!

We received updated measurements again! And new photos! Those are the BEST emails to open! But soon we will be holding our sweet little girl in our arms and see her face to face.

On March 19, 2013, which would be when Elliana was five months old, she weighed 13.2lbs and was 22.4 inches long.

She grew a lot during the last month! And we will get to be with her when she turns six months old. Exciting!

I can't wait until after April 9 so I can put her beautiful face on here for you to see!! But for now....

She is already a little sun devil fan! Daddy's little girl!

In other news, we made a little run to Walmart for some needed supplies. Looking over the packing list, the only thing left to get is 100% deet, which we could not find at the store. We'll try an outdoor store instead. I have the suitcase out and am starting to put things in it. I didn't want to do it too early so it just sat there taunting me, but now that I have thins to put in it, and we only have ONE WEEK to go, I figured it was finally time:)

We got lots of sanitizer, flushable wipes, pepto bismo, deet for our bodies, sleep aid, Tylenol, lots of batteries for my handy dandy medela, and an awesome new sleep mask! I still need to go see if I have earplugs in my bag from my shooting range days. Ashley is letting us borrow her adapter so we can keep our cameras charged!! :)

This is my carry on that will contain all my belongings for the week! We can take two 50lb checked bags each, which we will be taking. Three of the bags are perfectly measured to 50lbs and are filled with supplies for making jewelry as well as clothes for the women of the hope house in Ethiopia. (More to come on that in a future post!) The fourth suitcase that will be checked will be filled with the blankies we are taking (more to come on that I a future post!) as well as medical supplies that we will take to the Transition Home.
We are allowed one 15lb carry on with us, so that will be what each of us take our personal things in. One thing we will take is a bar of soap to do our own "laundry" while we are there:)

Thank you for your prayers. One of the families I had asked for prayer to be submitted to embassy WAS submitted today! They had court on Dec 26, so they just passed the three month mark of waiting. Their little girl shares a room with Elliana so we will get to meet her.

Please pray for our preparations to come together and that nothing would be overlooked. It seems we have everything in order, but I'm sure I will forget something! So hopefully it isn't anything important:)
Also we would ask you to pray that the judge would rule in our favor and that the MOWA letter would be ready when we are in country so everything can go forward with the process.

We give God all the glory and praise for all He has done and is doing through this process. I know those of you that have adopted can relate when I say we have been changed through this process so much and it isn't even over yet. We understand our adoption by God our Father so much more than we could have ever tried to imagine before this. It is simply unexplainable. So thankful to Him that He didn't leave us as orphans and has redeemed us. And so humbled He gives us the opportunity to live out the gospel at it's core on a horizontal level here on earth.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Updated Measurements

We got measurements today! This is the first time for this, so that was a nice surprise!  The measurements were taken on February 19, 2013.  Elliana was 9lbs 11oz and 19.6 inches long.  She was 4 months and 1 week old at the time. Our little peanut:) I can't wait to get my hands on her in a couple weeks!!

In other news,  we are pretty much ready to go!!  We haven't started packing clothes yet and still need to make a run to get little things like sanitizer, sleep aid, tylenol, ear plugs, snacks, etc.  But we'll probably wait a little bit to do that as well.  But we have all the paperwork ready, copies made, notarized forms complete, immunizations done, and tickets booked!

We covet your prayers as we prepare to leave our home and two children here and go to the other side of the world.  Raelynn is very excited and we know she will be just fine because she knows we are going to visit her sister.  Please pray for the judge's favor for our family that we would pass court.  Please pray also that the papers needed would all be ready and be quickly handed off to the US Embassy.
Would you also please pray for the families waiting for court submission?  There are many families that have passed court and are waiting to bring their child home.  They have been waiting monthsseveral months.  Please pray that God would be pleased to work quickly in their situations and that their paperwork would be put in the right places and their children would clear to come home. 
And also that all the children there remain healthy and comforted as they wait for their forever familes to return for them.

16 days until we leave!!!!! :)

and here  is a picture of her little rolls....love those little legs! She was sleeping in this picture--it is one of my favorite pictures that I have :)

Friday, March 15, 2013


We got the call!!  We have a court hearing date in Ethiopia to appear before a judge and give our consent so Elliana can legally be a FRAZEY! Forever!  Even typing those words give me chills and bring tears.  I can't believe we are at this point.  It has been a long. time. waiting.

April 9, 2013 we will appear in Ethiopian court.  I cannot say a time, because apparently they are pretty loose about following times and appointments....so please, just block the entire day (actually it will be April 8-9 for you in the USA because we'll be 11 hours ahead) and pray.  Please! Pray that the judge would rule in our favor and we would hear the sweet words that Elliana is ours.

So, what other details are there?  We have purchased our tickets and we will leave Arizona at 11:20pm on Thursday, April 4.  Hopefully since it is a red eye we will get some sleep (haha, yeah right!)  It is a huge blessing this worked out for this flight so Brent didn't have to take Thursday off work. 
We will fly to Charlotte then to DC.  From DC we have a straight flight to Addis Ababa, which is the capital of Ethiopia and also the city where we will stay.

We hear that we will get to spend a couple hours each day with Elliana.  We are told to be careful not to attach too much for our sake, but more for the child's sake, since we will be leaving and the child is left there to return to day to day activity for at least a month. or two. or three.  Join us in praying that it will not be that long before our second trip.  God continues to pour blessing on us as we continue this process.  We were told it could be 2-8 weeks from preliminary court (which ours was on Feb 26) to the court hearing for consent.  If you do the math, we got our phone call exactly 15 days after our preliminary hearing.  Now, the time between the preliminary hearing and the court hearing for consent is actually going to be exactly 6 weeks. 

Let me tell you though, what a blessing it is that we have heard already.  First, for obvious reasons, so we don't have to keep waiting and wondering.  We have a date, we have a timeline, we have something to look forward to.  But also, for the sake of purchasing plane tickets!  We have communication with all of the families working with West Sands and I have never heard of this much of an advance notice.  Since we have had a referral and started actually paying closer attention to the timelines, most people have had TWO days notice!!  Two days.  We were prepping for that, but it is saving us a lot of money to be able to get tickets three weeks ahead of time rather than just days.

We have an amazing travel agent and are so thankful for her! If you are an adoptive family reading this and need an agent, please consider using Erica Shubin with MKI travel.  She was recommended to us by fellow West Sands families.  She is an adoptive mama herself and travels to Ethiopia for her ministry.  She is AWESOME and has been a blessing to get to know and work with.  Can't say enough good things about her!!  Her email is erica.shubin@mkigrouptravel.com

So we have our tickets, so we figured it was time to get our vaccines! We were going to do it a while ago, but insurance wasn't going to cover them and I couldn't get several of them because I'm nursing.  Then when I did try to make appointments it was so hard to get us in and well, you know how that goes.  I just never scheduled.  So, now that it is crunch time we figured we better get it done! 
And yet, another blessing of God's provision--turns out our insurance covers them 100% for preventative vaccines! It was SUPER easy because we just went to the CVS Minute Clinic after Brent got home from work.  (wow, those clinics are so cool! I'm never going to a doctor's office again!)
So we got vaccinated for Hep A and I got a flu shot, too!  Addis Ababa doesn't have malaria biting mosquitoes, so we didn't have to get that and Hep A was the only thing safe for me to get anyway.

And because every post is better with a picture.....

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What's Next?

I've been meaning to write this post for a while and knew I could keep putting it off...but now we are finally at the stage that it is all relevant.  Many people ask what is happening and when Elliana will be home.  This is, from our understanding, the way things have been moving along and what will happen in the near future:

We received and accepted our referral on December 28, 2012.  Elliana G. was 2 months old at the time.

When I upload this picture it is right side up! You'll just have to turn your head:)
This is a beautiful canvas from Grammy and Papa Adams for Elliana's room

On February 26, 2013 we had preliminary court.  From my understanding, this court is for the birth parents, when applicable, to appear and relinquish rights.  In the case of an abandoned child with no birth parents found, the person who found the child appears to testify as well as the director of West Sands in Ethiopia.  

In the preliminary court, the child is declared an orphan.  The judge, director of West Sands, and MOWA (Ministry of Woman Affairs--which is equivalent to our human services type of organizations) go over the paperwork and make sure everything is correct and that no one is opposed to anything in the adoption.

We had our court and have not heard word about it in one whole week!  Looking at the calendar today, I couldn't believe it has only been one week since then.  Everything seems like so much longer than it really is in this process!! Our agency told us that "no news is good news" and the next thing we should hear is that the MOWA letter is ready, and that should be within a couple weeks.

The typical timeline for families between preliminary court and their court date to appear in Ethiopia is 2-8 weeks.  What takes place during this time, we are not completely sure.  I can say that the timeline is definitely different for each family and that our agency can't give us any exact dates, but they did say it should be soon! :)

When the MOWA approval letter is ready, then our agency will call us to give us our court date.  We need to arrive in country before court and the most recent families from the agency were only given a two day notice before leaving!  It all adds to the excitement :)
When we travel, we will get to meet Elliana before court.  Then later in the week we will appear before the judge and it will all be made official!!!

The hard part though, is that we will only have custody of her in Ethiopia.  We will not be able to leave with Elliana.  A lot of important things have to happen between our first trip and our second trip to bring her home.

The director of West Sands will prepare all of the documents that need to be submitted to the United States Embassy.  The US Embassy will require there to be additional medical appointments and testing, an orphan status investigation, and the preparation of her passport and her birth certificate before Elliana can become a US citizen. Once all of the documentation is gathered it will be submitted to the US Embassy to review and make their determination. All the things that must occur are good and beneficial.  Basically, the US Embassy has to satisfy their needs that Elliana is truly an orphan and won't recognize our custody of her until we get US Embassy clearance.

So we will return home with full hearts but will have empty hands.  The time frame they give between court and Embassy submission is 2-8 weeks.  Once we are submitted to the Embassy, we know we are close but we don't quite get to jump on a plane at that point.  We have to wait for full clearance before scheduling the second trip. 

In the second trip, Brent will go to Embassy and have an interview with them. (the plan right now is that I will stay home)  They will then issue Elliana's travel visa and she will be ready to come home forever! 

Doesn't everyone love baby feet?  So thankful for this photo sent to us!
 (well, we got the entire photo--but I'll just show you what I can!)

Anything can happen in international adoption, and we would ask that you continue to pray for the process to move ahead smoothly and to completion quickly.  We wait with great anticipation, but we wait with great peace knowing that God is in control and not one detail is out of His plan.  We do pray that it would be His will to have Elliana home in our arms before summer!!