...Our Family...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in Ethiopia

Today was Christmas and we spent it first by going to worship at the International Evangelical Church in Addis. We sat in on a French service where the singing was absolutely amazing. Though we couldn't understand the words, we were able to sing several praise songs because we knew the melody.

I was taken over by the uninhibited love and adoration that Africans exhibit when they worship. Their love for God was palpable and their thankfulness for Jesus was intoxicating. I could have stayed with them and sang all day!

We then went to the Christmas service and worshiped with people from around the world. We heard at least 5 languages being spoken in the church, which as so awesome! We were both emotional when singing "Emmanuel" thinking of the perfect child who came to earth to bear the sins of the world. It is fitting that we are here, celebrating Emmanuel while at the same time bringing a new life into our family, a life that would be lost without the mercy and grace of Jesus. Such a heart-opening experience!

We then went to lunch at Metro Pizza, which we have eaten at before and the pizza is just as good! We met up with a few families who returned from Harra*, the region that Haddy is from in Northern Ethiopia. They had been to her orphanage and had asked the staff for photos of Haddy Cake. They were told that Haddy was too small and sick and they didn't want to take photos of her. This answers a lot for us regarding her health before coming into the care of our agency.

Our hearts break thinking of the hunger and struggle she must have experienced, yet we are amazed at her fighting spirit! A premie baby, undernourished, underdeveloped, abandoned-- yet she remains strong and a total delight to all who meet her. She, like our Devon and Micah, is a living miracle and testimony of God's grace and redemption on earth.

We then went to be with our girl at the Transitional Home. She was a bit distant at first, unresponsive, which made us very worried for her. Then, we took the hat off that we had brought for her and she perked right up. Mommy was sad about the hat, but at least she doesn't mind bows!

We were able to hook her up to our monitoring equipment (Chad is THE man and was able to procure some equipment from work) and watch her vital signs. Her heart rate was very fast at first, which made us very uneasy. Then, after she was fed, her heart rate normalized. Her pulse ox. was at 100%, which is absolute perfection! She cried a bit, which made us all melt as she has the sweetest little pouty cry we've ever heard. We weighed her and found that she has gained 1 pound in 2 weeks! We are hopeful that she will continue to gain weight in their care.

We are so thankful for the nursing staff at the TH. They dearly love her and have kept very good documentation on her life and health with them. They work so hard to care for the babies as best they can while providing love and support. We are forever grateful.

Today we go to court to give our consent to bring Haddy into our family. I would be lying if I said I wasn't on the verge of tears at all times. I've been up since 4:30 am praying and worrying (which defeats the praying, I know) over this day. Passing today would give us the BEST scenario to get her home within a few weeks. We are still unsure of when I (Kim) will be coming home. This is starting to take its tole on me, as is the jet lag. Please pray for a favorable court date and sound sleep for Kim!

We will keep you updated with the court results as soon as we have them! For now, enjoy a few photos from our journey.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

We Made It--- Haddy Cake Metcha Day

Hi Everyone,

So, we're reopening the blog because we are currently in Ethiopia for our court date for Haddy Cake Kulp!

Our trip to court has been a crazy fast ride! We found out last Monday (5 days ago) that there was a strong possibility that our court date would be moved up given Haddy's medical status. At that time she was still in the hospital and without a diagnosis (we still don't have a diagnosis, btw, and won't until we get her home). On Tuesday we were told to spend a ridiculous amount of money on tickets because we would be leaving in 3 days! What a whirlwind. I feel like I was just sitting in my room with my friend Kate packing, but that was 5 days ago.

Our trip to Ethiopia was horrendously long, but uneventful (if you don't count Chad's birthday literally only lasting 16 hours because of the time change!). Ethiopian airlines is wonderful and their new planes are top notch. We have no complaints, save the lack of toilet paper 8 hours into a 13 hour flight (but Super Kim always carries TP ;0)

We arrived at our guest house via an amazing AWAA transport in the form of Yonas and David (amazing friends already). As we drove, memories of our last trip smacked us in the face in the form of beautiful landscape and people (as well as stifling pollution, inhaler, check). We had forgotten so much. This land is breathtaking in its beauty yet crippled in its poverty. Somehow distance had made my heart forget this strange and unbearable truth.

We had 5 minutes (ok, it was 30 but it felt like 5) to get ready to go meet Haddy. Our nerves took over and so I naturally started to pick at Chad and he immediately had to use the bathroom. ;0)

We drove a familiar route to the Transitional Home (run by our agency where little bows is) and found ourselves in no time at the silver gates.

Oh. My. Friends. She is a delightful, adorable, teensy-weensy bundle of JOY! She giggles and smiles so often that we found ourselves literally in puddles of love on the dirt floor. We can tell that she is a total LIFE GIVER as every. single. person. is madly in love with our Haddy Cake. They even had the massive pink bow I sent on her! (But, her hair was a hot-fro-mess which this mama will correct in no time, don't you worry little Cake.)

She is, by all accounts, a precious gift and we are so thankful for her. We can tell she is strong, alert, interactive, social, joyful, and just all around adorable.

What she IS NOT is at a healthy weight. Our little peanut is so, so, so, small. nothing quite prepared me for how small she is. Right now, wherever you are, imagine a sack of flower in your arms. That is our Haddy Cake, under 10 pounds at 5 months old.

A few things are clear to us, Haddy Alana is OURS. She is total joy, just like her namesake Alana, Chad's sister who is with Jesus. Alana was a life giver, a joy spreader, a sweet pixie of a girl who had her older brothers wrapped around her tiny elfin fingers. Haddy is and will be the same.

We are also sure that this baby is, despite her disposition and strength, very underweight and having feeding issues. She is also still tachypnic, meaning her breathing is still too fast.

We were notified today that our MOWCY* Letter (approving our family for her) has been written and sent to the court. We appear before the judge on Monday. It looks as though we will pass on that date and then, hopefully, be submitted to the Embassy on January 4th. We don't have an indication yet of how long her visa will take to process, which means we are not sure yet if Kim is staying or coming home on Friday Night.

Please keep praying for Haddy's health to improve and for her to begin eating normally. She is so small, we really want to see her put on weight!

We'll post pics as soon as we pass court. Love to you all!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Naked for Christ--- It's Not About Me!

Lately I have come to realize just how selfish, self-absorbed, self-focused I am!

Truth be told, I hate the second part of that title; I hate that truth! I want to make everything about me. My feelings, my needs, my dreams, my hopes, my prayers, my life... the list goes on and on. If I really am honest, I'm like my screaming 2 year old so much of the time. "MINE!!" "NO WAY!!" "GIVE ME!!"

The crazy thing about my selfishness is that it has denied me great joy and blessing! There is not ONE blessing in my life that I willingly brought upon myself by being self-focused. All of my life's joys have come from the Lord and my willingness to follow His loving plan.

Devon came to us after I kicked and screamed over not getting pregnant.

Micah came to us after I kicked and screamed that he wasn't coming home soon enough.

We got to see God's amazing right hand through Micah despite my screams of "it's not fair!!!" from the pit.

God has blessed my selfishness in ways I don't deserve. He has loved me at my most wretched. And he is commanding me to "walk in love" as He did. He's asking me to give myself up as He did for me. It's shocking and painful to be so exposed to our selfishness and lay it at the feet of the one who became naked and broken for us.

But, in this nakedness we find true love and blessing. There's nothing that stands in the way of my relationship with God, of my love for Him, and of my ability to serve Him on this earth than- ME!

If we really want to confront our hearts and conform them to be like Christ, we must confront our selfishness. This is not easy, its down right miserable. When we do it, when we really hold the mirror up to our hearts we are left naked.

Naked for Christ.

We are naked right now. We are reevaluating our calling, examining our vision, and assessing our selfishness and turning our hearts back to the Lord and His amazing plan. This blog post made me ask myself "just what are you doing? Are your dreams God's dreams or your own version of MINE?"

Read it and be prepared to get naked.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fall Festival Madness!

Hi All! Most of you know via Facebook or email that we are having a HUGE Fall Festival in 1 week to raise money for our adoption. The planning is in full crazy swing and we'll have a hay ride, pulled pork, face painting, live music, root beer keg, and so much more! We'll also be selling raffle tickets for awesome baskets that have been donated.

Please consider joining us. The cost of the tickets is 15$ adults, 5$ for kiddos with a maximum of $40 per family.

We hope to see you!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MICAH- "Who is like our God?"

Words cannot begin to express what we have seen and felt today. Our hearts are swimming in sadness mixed with mercy. We can no longer ignore the face of starvation. It is the face of our son. I'll tell the story because in the telling perhaps we will find peace and you will find HOPE.

What we know about Micah's life before he came to our agency and to Addis isn't much. We know he was relinquished by a brave, amazing woman who wanted him to live. She gave hope to a hopeless child. She walked away from her own flesh so that he might have life. We knew he was sick; we knew he was little; we knew he was a miracle. But there is so much we don't know. The silence of what we don't know is deafening.

This week, through my great friend Sherry and an amazing woman who gave her life for a year to our kiddos in Ethiopia, a bit of that silence has been filled. God's timing with this was so perfect. I had just written my previous blog post and my heart was filled with wonder at the amazing redemption of adoption and yet broken by the pain and reality of what abandonment is. We were weary of the fundraising, the questions, the unknowns.

God BROKE THROUGH and gave us, yet again, an image of his amazing grace and love for the orphan. HE IS HOPE.

This week the silence of the unknown has been filled with screaming and has been replaced with an ache in my heart and stomach so real I can barely breathe. The screaming is of both horror and hope. It's unreal.

The brave, loving, amazing Rachel, who spent so much of her time caring for our kids in Ethiopia, sent us photos of Micah when he first arrived in her care. I have no words to express how these photos have broken my heart, shocked me into facing the reality of STARVATION and the hopelessness that has blanketed so much of Africa.

We knew he was sick. We knew he was small. We knew he was a miracle. We didn't know he was dying. DYING. STARVING TO DEATH.

We've all seen the pictures and felt sadness for a child a million miles away who has nothing to eat. What if it were your child? Have you actually ever asked yourself that question? IT WAS MY CHILD. The emaciated, sunken face; the protruding, distended belly; the skin that hangs off like an elephants; and the bones, the bones...

I've been trying to get the courage to show you the real pictures, to show you the face of starvation, the face of death apart from our Savior. I can't, I WON'T, do it. This is Micah's story and I will let him tell you one day. When he can look into his own sunken eyes and accept his distended belly, his hanging skin, his skeleton-like body, I will know he is ready.

I will tell you that there is NOTHING that prepared my heart for those photos.

I will show you the photos of my 3 month old baby 2 weeks after he came into the care of our amazing, mama-bear, fight to the death for every baby agency-family in Ethiopia.

Here's our little Moo. 3 months old.

This photo shows a MIRACULOUS change in our son. Given proper nutrition, care, and LOVE, he was transformed. God's grace reigned supreme in the life of our Micah. God's grace reigns supreme in my life and I am struck dumb by his mercy.

Micah is simply an earthly, physical glimpse of how our Savior saves us all from the starvation of our souls.

Thank you, Father, for saving my son.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Brokenness and Truth

I've been wanting to write this post for over a year and haven't summoned the courage. This isn't easy to write and most likely won't be easy to read. I am sure there will be many who agree, many who disagree, and many who don't want to admit the truth about adoption. I'm writing this for myself, for catharsis, to "speak the truth in love..." and about love.

When I think about adoption I wish the only images that came to my mind were rainbows, smiles, and kisses. But this just isn't the truth. There are so many painful images that come to my mind, that are forever imprinted on my heart. To only tell the kisses would be lying to myself and to the world about what adoption is and what it is not.

Adoption is God's design. He authored it and obviously champions it as He had his only son come into the world as an adopted child. Adoption is wonderful and we are big fans.

But adoption exists because of pain, brokenness, despair, horror, and sadness. Adoption exists because of starvation, death, disease, abuse, rape, and other unspeakable horrors. Adoption is amazing and beautiful and love. But adoption is also misery, pain, hardship, torture, loss, and so much more.

This weekend we spent time with our great friends. They recently brought their child home from China and she is an amazing joy! BUT, there is struggle. There is pain. There is hardship. A gorgeous child who has seen so much hardship already and yet has finally come to a safe loving place. This is an amazing picture of redemption! But before redemption comes unspeakable pain.

The truth about adoption is that in order for it to exist one family must rip themselves from their child and give them up. A mother turns her head as nurses carry her baby away. A policeman holds a child as his mother walks away forever. A child is left on the side of a road while the mother secretly waits in hiding for someone to carry him away. A child watches his mother die and then is taken from all he knows to a home that is not his home.

However it happens it is painful, it is torture, it is life at its most brokenness.

It's easy to talk about how wonderful the child's life is now, how amazing it is to bring them into our home, how blessed they now are in their new life. BUT, that's not the only truth. The pain of their separation from their first family is true, it is real, and it is important to acknowledge. Jesus wept at the loss of Lazarus. He felt the truth, the pain, the ache of death as a human.

As adoptive parents we either acknowledge this reality or we don't. In order for us to have our child, to experience the joy and the love someone had to go through horror beyond understanding. This is the truth.

Lately we have been wondering where and how our little girl is. Has she been born? Is she healthy? Where is she now? This third time around I truly want to experience adoption for ALL that it is, not what I want it to be or what I think it should be. So, this time around I am allowing myself to wonder, ponder, cry over, and consider the whole truth of my child's life.

Right now she could be lying on the side of the road, screaming, waiting for someone to find her. She could be in the arms of a policeman watching her mother walk away. She could be in the arms of a nurse, her mother turning her head as she is carried away to a nursery. I just don't know. Does she miss her mother? And how will God minister to the hearts of those aching for my daughter well beyond my own aching?

I know that a family is in pain somewhere knowing that they will not see the smiles, get the kisses, rock, hold, sing, LOVE on my daughter though their love for her is just as strong. I love this family. I hate the brokenness that will eventually bring my daughter to me. So much of my heart wishes it didn't have to be.

But I love the REDEMPTION that is adoption. I look forward to the redemption, to the kisses, to the small hand that will fit perfectly in mine. I look forward to sharing her story and my heart with her.

Right now I am allowing the truth and brokenness of adoption to seep into my heart. I don't want to miss this part. I don't want to be too afraid to acknowledge this dark, sad side of adoption.

The light of redemption will be so much brighter after walking in this darkness,.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Knit Together

Our God is an amazing visionary.

Whenever I think of visionaries, I imagine the scene in Apollo 13 where the men who are trying to fix the shuttle are in a conference room discussing the problems. A man walks in carrying a box of random stuff. He says to the group " We have to make this (holds up the necessary part) out of this (holds up the box of random stuff)." That's vision.

Our God is an amazing visionary.

When we first brought Micah home our home was nothing short of a war zone. There are no words to describe how desperate, how disappointed, how dazed we felt at the REALITY of adoption. It was so hard. SO. HARD.

I remember telling my great friend Sherry "I feel like this adoption has ruined our life." Yeah. It was that bad. Micah never slept and cried for his nanny all night long. Devon revolted against the crazy life change of having a new brother. He reverted back to diapers and bit, hit, and screamed his way through each day.

If I had only known.

Yesterday we were at an indoor playland and the boys were playing together. I watched as Devon stayed with his much smaller 2 year old brother and played with him, protecting him from other kids who would bump or touch him. I was amazed. Then I heard Devon say to Micah "Micah, I love you. You're the best brother." I burst into tears.

Our God is an amazing visionary.

He created us each as individuals, so different with so many different needs and abilities. Yet, he knew how we would fit together. He knew what we each needed and chose us specifically for one another. It's amazing to me how well suited my sons are for one another. Where one is weak, the other is strong. Yet they have the same joyful, playful, strong, loving spirit.

Our God is an amazing visionary.
He chose a baby born in an underprivileged community in Trenton for a young, inexperienced couple and redeemed an entire family. He chose a starving baby in Ethiopia for that same baby boy to help him grow, to give him a best friend, to change him in ways he didn't want to change and to help him be a more whole individual. And He did it all for us despite our lack of vision and faith.

And right now He is choosing another child to fit into this puzzle of family He has made in us. This child will be exactly what we need and so much more than we can imagine.

That's love, my friends. Visionary love.