Friday, September 28, 2012

Day 4 Totals

Hey Guys! I'm heading to the AIRPORT!!! Sorry I've been such a super slacker on the blog this week, but honestly, these videos are so awesome! I actually kind of screamed and then cried when I saw this one. WOW!

I love you guys! Thanks for taking this ride with me. Thanks for helping out all these families. Seriously, you're amazing. I love the community we've knit. Keep giving over the weekend. I love watching this.  I'll see you next week with new pics!!! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day 3 Totals

Airport Craziness

Disclaimer: My most recent trip to Ethiopia was a little over a year ago, so perhaps some of this information is outdated. I'll let you know when I get back in December from my next trip if things are running differently or feel free to comment if you've had a more recent experience that was a little different!

I've been privileged to do my fair share of domestic and international travel. I really, really love to travel, see new places and experience new cultures. I even love airplane travel (yes, even when we have to go through that scan machine). What I do have to say, however, is that airplane travel to a developing country poses some unique challenges.

Ethiopian Airlines began it's nonstop service from DC to Addis Ababa I believe last year, which was a fantastic change. On my first trip over in 2009, I flew North Carolina to Boston to London to Amman, Jordan to Ethiopia. Something like 36 hours of travel time was over the top exhausting, not to mention to the 10 hour time change. Now, a nonstop to DC, overnight layover, and nonstop to Addis seriously cuts this time down. Know what it also means? You're less likely to have lost luggage. I am not even kidding you when I tell you more luggage was lost than not back in the day. In fact, someone I know had a bag that was lost for over six months. Here comes my first suggestion: pack enough in your carry-on luggage to survive initially in country if your checked bags never make it. 

We were pretty excited to take advantage of this nonstop flight. We arrived at the DC airport about two hours in advance to check in for our flight. The Ethiopian Airline employees informed us of how late we were checking in, as noted by the fact that they had already given our previously assigned seats away. Since when is two hour check-in too late? I suppose the good news for us what that we still got seats on the plane. The bad news was that they were the second to last row. This is bad for a few reasons. First, when you're the last to get off the plane, you're also the last in line for visas and customs. It's also bad when the turbulence happens to be so bad that the only thing keeping you in your seat is your seat beat and the rest of the passengers are yelling and making the sign of the cross. (On a side note, our friends in the middle of the plane said, "What turbulence?") Next piece of advice: check in early. EARLY, people. And book advance seats, knowing the last rows are not super desirable and the first row is where the babies are with the bassinets.

When you arrive in the airport in Addis Ababa, you'll get off the plane on the runway and board a bus that takes you to the terminal. You'll corral towards the visa and customs lines. Currently,  you can still get a visa for Ethiopia in the airport. I've been hearing this will change, but as of now, it holds true. If you are traveling to volunteer with an organization, you can also apply for a business visa beforehand. This costs $70 and you have to send in an application with a letter from the business to the Ethiopian Embassy, along with your passport, prior to your departure. This allows you to skip the visa line and it is good for two years.

You'll likely want to exchange money at the airport once you are through customs. The best plan of action is to have one person in your party go to the baggage claim carousel while the other goes to exchange money. There is a sign at the money exchange booth that says something along the lines of YOU MUST GET A RECEIPT FOR YOUR MONEY EXCHANGE, NO EXCEPTIONS. Except that they don't seem to ever have receipts when I'm there. So maybe it's not that big of a deal? Don't take my word on that one, though, because I'd hate for you to be stopped without a receipt and get in trouble. Try and get a receipt if you can. (I've also been there when they wouldn't exchange all the money I wanted because they said they didn't have money left. That poses a problem).

wow, i had definitely been traveling for more than 24 hours at this point
The worst, worst part of getting out of the airport in Ethiopia is having to send all your baggage through the x-ray machine on a conveyer belt before you exit. Although it doesn't seem like a big deal, this is your first introduction into Ethiopian "organization." So here's the deal: if you're not assertive, you will never get out of the airport. If you actually get in the legit line, there will be a continuous flow of people cutting in front of you. This means you have to be putting your luggage on the conveyor belt and push it forward as it should go. I think if I didn't stand out so much, people would think I work at the airport. Be nice, but get your bags through. You will have been off the plane for likely more than an hour at this point, so you'll be ready to go.

Once you're "free," you may be poking your head around for the person that is supposed to meet you there. Sometimes, the airport doesn't let non-travelers inside the building. If you don't see who you're looking for, you may want to check outside. Beware, though, once you leave the building, they may not let you back in, either. Make sure you're ready to leave because once you go, you might be gone.

As frantic as the airport fuss may be, in reality it's only a few hours of your trip. Don't let it frustrate you or ruin your first impression. Ethiopia is a beautiful country with rich history, delicious coffee and the most welcoming, friendly people I've ever met. I hope you enjoy life outside the terminal as much as I do.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Day 2 Totals

OK, we're doing something a little different this week. Because my brain is all jumbled up. And because our AWESOME family of the week is doing a total video each day! So, here's todays. Well, yesterday's...

Don't you just love them? Have you donated yet? Be a part of tomorrow's total. Seriously, I'm wanting to donate again just to see. The donate button is up there on the top left. See it? Thanks!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Few Updates

Who wants to see some updates? I am loving all these new pictures. Ok, here's the new kids in the family....

Little Miss Delila Yoder. Dad cut his hair too, y'all! Go check out their family pics here. They are amazing!

And another adorable little lady, Azeb Tenges, aka Azzie. So sweet!

The Weldons have accepted the referral of Enoch and continue to wait for their referral of an infant. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Family of the Week - The Andersons

You guys are going to freak out over our family of the week, the Andersons. First of all, I could eat them up, no? Secondly, their blog is ridiculous. Look! Do you wish you were that stylish? I know! 
Me too. 

We are just two very regular people, totally in love with Jesus and each other, serving in full-time ministry and discovering the awesome plan that God has for our lives. The story of our adoption begins a few years ago, as we began to walk down the road of "infertility." We decided early on that we wanted to invest our time and money into adoption rather than procedures and testings. In December 2011, we officially decided to start the process of adopting from Ethiopia! There are days that we feel like we have NO idea what we are doing and days that we feel totally overwhelmed with what we ARE doing! But, through each day, we experience God's faithfulness, peace, and love as we look forward to our future family and the plans that He has in store for us!

Aw! Don't we love these people?! Ok, so you guys know what to do, right? Most of you do, but we've got lots of new people here lately (Hey, New People!!!! We LOVE New People). New people, all you have to do is just donate $1 (or more if you want, whatever). And then next Monday we'll have a new family. You'll just do the same thing. But maybe you'll forget next Monday! I know you think you won't, but you might, so the best thing to do is just subscribe by email over there on the right. Ok, ready everybody?! GO!!!

Ok, now don't you feel good? Go in peace about your business today with a warm fuzzy feeling!

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I can't wait to order some of these as soon as we have some babes running around the house: personalized stacking rings. So simple, so sweet.

This etsy shop, along with many others, carries other custom jewelry, too. I just happen to be a sucker for the rings.

These are pretty adorable, too:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Big Announcement

Love makes ... No.2 - giclee print
{print available here. it's one of my all-time faves.}

Ok, guys, here's the big update. We cleared embassy on Monday. Brandon and his brother, Sean, are leaving tomorrow for an Embassy appointment on Monday. They'll be home next Friday afternoon!!!! Please pray for their trip. That peace remains in Ethiopia. That the men will handle the baby just fine and not ever ever ever tell me all the wacked out things they do. 

Also, the last whopper travel payment is due today. If you want to pitch in for that I'll freak out and give you a virtual kiss. You can donate a buck or so here, or you can buy a tshirt over there on the right. Thanks so much for sticking with me this WHOLE journey. This little blog that I started to kill time while I waited for our child has turned out to be kind of big deal. We've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last year and a half and we're getting bigger all the time. Y'all rock, for real. I can't wait for you guys to get to meet Jude!!! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Francis Chan

I'm a fan of Francis Chan's beliefs that as Christians, our lives aren't always going to be comfortable. Almost nothing in the adoption world is comfortable. We all know that, right? There are enough honest people out there sharing about how difficult some periods are, but that every single heartache and emotional rollercoaster and hold-your-breath moments and how-are-we-ever-going-to-do-this times are worth it once your child is home. Seriously, I mean it. Just ask these families.

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Week - The Owen Family

Oh, wow, guys. The bravery of this weeks' family takes my breath away. Say hey to the Owen family. We've got a military family, Dad is currently deployed. Mom's about to travel to bring home two little girls who have recently had surgeries and illnesses. And all of that is in addition to carrying for their 3 boys at home. They need $4,000 to travel and I want to give this Mama a break. I know we can do this! We all know what stress feels like, and financial stress at that. Let's see if we can just nix that particular burden for this family so they can focus on their family right now. Let's do it, y'all!!!

We are adopting Ava and Zoey in response to God's call to take care of the orphans and widows.  The Lord has worked on our hearts for several years.  One major hangup for our family in taking this step of obedience was that Ryan is in the military, and has been deployed several times.  He has missed so much of our boys lives, to include the birth of Riley (they met when Riley was 5 months old.)  But God's call was unavoidable!  We started our journey and have fallen in love with these two precious little girls.  We were told that the process would take 12-18 months.  We were excited that this timing would work perfectly... we would have enough time to get through the home study and majority of paperwork, and then do much of the waiting while Ryan was deployed.  As it turns out, our fear is being realized.  On September 1st, Ryan will deploy to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.  He will be deployed until June 1st, 2013.  He will not be able to come home, and he will meet the girls about 5 months after they have come home.  

We were asked if we wanted to delay the process, but when we received Ava and Zoey's medical reports, we found out that Ava has malaria and a very large hernia.  We realized that God's timing is perfect... though not perfectly the way we would have planned... we know that His ways are higher than our own.  We have been overwhelmed by how he has provided, how all of the details have come together and how He works His will to place the lonely in families.  We don't expect this journey to be easy, on the contrary, we expect it to be extremely difficult, but we trust His Word.  We know that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and as long as we are leaning on Him our paths will be made straight.  

We feel honored that God has seen us fit to be Ava and Zoey's parents.  

***So far you guys have given the Owen family $1,927!!!***

Friday, September 14, 2012

6 More States Left!

So this is one of my favorite emails ever from Angela, the mom of the week. Check it out!


So, I have to tell you, this week with  adding $2,000 has been incredible, but honestly, we have raised closer to $14,000 total through give1save, just not all this week. We put the video together and shared it and started sharing it. It has caught speed and momentum and we are going to be fully funded before we go to get our kids! We are so thankful for your concept and would have NEVER done anything like this without your leadership in doing this. One thing we have done in addition to give1save1 is added that we are trying to raise at least $1 from all 50 states. We only have 6 more states to get $1 from. My kids have been "pinning" M&M pins to a map and we keep people updated this way. I included one of the pictures of the map. We also have 9 countries. CRAZY cool for them to see this many people loving on our children and helping to bring them home. 

Thank you for you ministry with give1save1. It is amazing! We are at $2167 as of right now. 

I leave for my embassy appointment on the 26th. The appointment is the 1st. We will be bringing M&M home next month! 
I know you are waiting for your embassy appt. I will be praying for you through this waiting time! The waiting is brutal and we only started the process April 4th. I really can't complain since it will only be a little over 6 months from first walking in the adoption agency doors to bringing the kiddos home.

We are blessed!
Have a great weekend!

Our last 6 states!


Shirts Are In!

I never really mentioned it before since we ran out the day that they came in, but Give1 tshirts are back in stock! Order yours now by clicking the icon over there on your right! See it? This is me in a medium, our most popular size by far. Thanks so much for supporting our family in this way. We've got one more round of plane tickets to buy and we're done!!!

 There are a few more neat things you can purchase from other Give1 bloggers. Have a look...

Sweet Little Africa Hoop
Lindsay, from the Caribbean blog, is actually adopting from DRC. Check these out!!!

Chantel is making these. Love them. 

And Alison has some beautiful new prints in her shop. Here's my current fave. 

leader::kenya Art Print

Happy shopping and have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

This is What Being Submitted to Embassy Feels Like...

OK, so I'm willing to make a flippin' fool of myself on camera so you can wrap your head around how unstable this last phase is. You wanted real... This is real!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Little Grace

Hey guys,

There's some stuff going on on the web that I want to address just cause I have a little stage. I've been seeing ALOT of frustration coming off of LOTS of blogs lately where adopting families are venting about people saying the wrong things to them. And that the general public should stop complimenting us, saying we're nice or rescuing a child, or asking if our children are adopted (when they pretty clearly are). I also feel a little uncomfortable when people say it's kind of us to adopt and that we're really doing something great for our child. And if they could peek into my heart they'd see that it's not really much of a sacrifice on my part. I'm over the moon, and I'm sure he's not going to be that thrilled, actually. And in a heart to heart with a friend, I'd gladly state where I'm coming from on all this. But in casual park conversations, trips to the grocery store, and church chit chat, a smile and 'wer're pretty excited too' will suffice.

And as for people who ask about a clearly adopted child, I know you might think it's rude. I know. But my experience is that most people are just curious. In fact, some of them may be interested in adopting. And not everyone knows our lingo. And surely we can't expect the rest of the world to place adoption above the many other worthy topics to teach their children about. We are a few people who have an opportunity to teach the public about something really cool, and I hate to see us all getting our panties in a wad because someone phrased a question or sentiment the 'wrong' way when they were trying to be kind. I KNOW that before I adopted I have asked someone if their child was adopted. Because I was interested in it and I could clearly see that I was talking to a person that could tell me about it. And I really hope they didn't go home all upset and write a nasty blog post about the ignorance of the general public inspired by me! You know what I mean? So I'd like to be a voice of, um.... encouragement? Discouragement? I'm not really sure at this point. I'd like to throw in my two cents and say, simmer down, girls. The world is opening up about adoption, and that's stinkin' awesome! But we can't be snobs about it or we'll alienate people. Or needlessly upset ourselves. Heaven forbid someone says you're nice. It's all good. I just don't want to see all of us walking around with a chip on our shoulder and jumping on a bandwagon of spreading nastiness. That's not what we're about, right?! And I'm not missing the fact that I'm complaining about complaining! :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Resources for Adopting from Africa

 The last time I wrote a post on Give1, I was basically retiring my Give1 password. Well, I’m coming out of retirement to do a post or two while Beth prepares little guy to come home (soon, we hope!). 

Meanwhile, my adoption process is going just as slow as everyone else’s. So while I wait (and wait and wait), I have been looking for adoption resources to arm myself with information.

Here are some gems I’ve found:

Medical Information. Orphan Doctor is a website that discusses medical issues common with adoption. This page, in particular, discusses orphan medical care in Ethiopia. (Last updated in 2007, so it’s a bit old, but it’s something.)

Hair and Skin Care. Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care is a popular site, but just in case you haven’t visited it yet, bookmark it now! 

Here’s another great site with a post about a basic hair routine. This post is fabulous:

General Information. I know we all get tired of the required adoption education seminars our agencies make us take, but I really enjoyed the seminar “Adopting from African Countries” from Heart of the Matter Seminars.

My favorite book about adoption is There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene. It’s more of a story/historical account of this amazing woman who started caring for orphans in Ethiopia before adoption was common. Overall, it’s a beautiful—at times, heartbreaking—story. But I feel it’s great at depicting Ethiopian culture and situations orphans face.

Government Information. Here is a link to the State Department’s page for Ethiopian adoption information. Major government announcements regarding the adoption process get posted here as they occur.

Please add your favorite adoption resources in the comments. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Family of the Week - The Hatfields

Hey guys,

Today I'm going to let Mom and Dad share a little about their situation. And stick with me, because there's a giveaway going down. Remember those fantastic Gingermelon dolls that I blogged about last week. And last year, for that matter. Well, Shelly, the darling creator of Gingermelon has a soft spot for Africa. She was born and raised in South Africa! How crazy is that?! And she made this doll for us (thank you Shelly, you are the sweetest!). One of you is going to win it! I'll draw on Sunday evening at 8pm. All you have to do is comment. Tell me you donated or leave a word of encouragement for the Hatfields. Or do both, that would be awesome. Here she is, the Angel of Hope...

And now, on to say hello to our family of the week, the Hatfields, who are adopting Malachi and Mercy from Africa. It looks like they've got a pretty sweet family to come home to. :)

From Paul:

In 2003, our family left everything and moved to Boise, ID to start The Pursuit. We had no idea what God would do in and through us as we stepped forward in obedience. It appears that 2012 is going to be another defining step of faith for us.

Angela and I have always talked about "maybe adopting a child.” When I went to Uganda in March of this year, I went to two different orphanages. While visiting them, God made it clear that it was time for us to adopt and startled me when He said, "Don't stop at one."

Upon my return to Idaho, we met with a blessed family who has adopted from Africa, and we committed to adopting two children from the same place. On April 4, Angela and I walked into an adoption agency to begin the process. Then, on May 12, Angela received a call that a 3-year-old boy who could be our son had just arrived at the orphanage. On May 20, we received a call that a two-year-old girl had just arrived at the same orphanage. Their pictures grabbed our hearts, and we knew they were ours.

From Angela:

The journey since has not been easy. On June 16th, we received a call telling us that M&M were sick with malaria and typhoid and in the hospital. When your children are 8,423ish miles from you and you find out they have life-threatening illnesses, you are reminded of your complete dependence on God. We asked everyone to pray, and on June 21st, we got the call that all of the children in the orphanage had pulled through and were on meds and recovering.

What is it like to live in their city? Here is an excerpt from an article I found: “Violence is everywhere. Extreme deprivations due to the collapse of the formal economy and State institutions have created a underclass of demoralised and impoverished citizens. People there suffer from hunger. Children are starving from malnutrition or disease.”

Our children live in a orphanage with no running water or electricity. However, they are being fed and cared for medically by precious caregivers. We are so thankful to those who are laying down their lives for our children for this time.

We have learned that Mercy has a huge bright smile and is friendly with the other kids. Malachi appears very healthy and is fun too. They both loved the photo books we sent, and they enjoyed showing their friends their new family.

If we moved to Africa today, Malachi and Mercy would legally be Hatfields! We are so anxious to go pick them up and bring them home, but we have to wait for all the legal paperwork to go through before we can do this.

From our family:

We are so excited to bring these two beautiful children home. We have been so blessed by the love and support from our friends and church family. We want to give you the opportunity to join us in making a difference in the lives of these two orphans.

The first thing we would ask you to do is pray faithfully for Malachi and Mercy. Pray for their spiritual, emotional and physical health. Pray that they will already be attachinging to us as mom and dad through pictures and that God would be preparing them for the trip to the U.S. and their arrival in our home. Pray for our patience as we anticipate traveling there in October.

So guys, we know what to do, right? Donate your dollar (or more, whatever), and don't forget to leave me a comment so you're entered into the giveaway for the sweet Angel of Hope by Gingermelon! Then tell your friends. :)

***So far you guys have donated $1,886 to Mercy and Malachi's adoption***

Friday, September 7, 2012


OK, guys, we're down to the wire. On Wednesday we were submitted to Embassy and also found out that Jude has pneumonia. I freaked. I was ready to hop a plane. Apparently that was not necessary. One of our friends who was there on their Embassy trip took this...

Yeah, it looks like he's doing ok! In fact, I think he might be faking it. Not only that, but look! He's sitting up! We didn't know if he would ever do that at all, and there he is! I adore his nannies. I love this kid. He amazes us, and everyone else, all the time. 

So the scoop is that we have a medical expedite for him given his special needs, and now pneumonia. It hasn't been very speedy until we were submitted, but we are catching up now. Yesterday they emailed to tell us that they are working as fast as they can. Today they emailed to say that they wanted to do an interview with the police officer involved with his abandonment case, but would do it over the phone. Today's a half day for them, so it's all done for the day, but if they can reach the officer and get the answers they are looking for (I have no idea what they would be), we'll be cleared really soon! Pray, my favorite people, because God loves you and hears your prayers. Obviously. It's working. Thank you. I love you! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I think it's safe to say mamas of all kids, biological and adoptive, go through a period of nesting during their pregnancy or paper pregnancy. We've all heard it before and have an idea of what nesting means, but I thought it would be interesting to see what the dictionary would describe as nesting. 

My favorite description was this: To create and settle into a warm and secure refuge.

We've seen the fruits of Beth's recent nesting labor (if you haven't, you should seriously check it out, Jude is one lucky little man). I think most people recommend waiting until you're close to traveling to prepare the actual nursery or room because it can be pretty emotional during the waiting process, but it doesn't mean we can't spend this period being productive!

I typically pride myself on being an anti-pack rat. We have one small room in our basement where we store our holiday decorations, camping/hiking/sporting gear and other miscellaneous this. Apparently I didn't really appreciate this "miscellaneous" problem as much as I should have. I was appalled when Nick pulled out a bag of random items that were clearly a last minute pack from our move to Colorado from North Carolina (I am embarrassed to admit that was over three years ago!) that we haven't even looked at since. Needless to say, our trash bin is full this week and we've got a pretty good yardsale pile going.

I've been scouring Craigslist looking for storage shelves. Although it really wasn't unorganized down there, I wanted to be able to pull out each bin to get to items easily. Sure, home organization isn't as much fun as decorating our girl's room, but Pinterest is holding some great ideas for me until we get to that point. I know if nothing else it will feel pretty good to have our basement storage looking good! How have you been passing the time during the infamous waiting period? I hope we run out of projects sooner rather than later; this is hard work!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

This is How Men Nest

It's true, men do some nesting when it's time for a baby to arrive too. Is Brandon scrubbing the floors? Nope, not so much. A little decorating? Remodeling a bit. But no, his nesting is taking shape in the form of cigars. You know how men have that darling tradition of celebrating a new arrival with a smoke? Well, Brandon's taken it way farther. He's started making his own cigars (last year), and he's perfected the craft so well that they now sell his cigars in a local shop. Well, he made some for when Jude gets home.

He also made some for another couple that we traveled with. He decorated the box with their son's initials and is sending them to his cigar loving daddy!

Aren't they lovely? I have to admit, I never knew it could be such a pretty craft, and I do like the smell of the leaves. NOT the smoke. But the leaves smell nice. :)

On a little sidenote: I hope you guys aren't getting crazy bored with my life, but I'm scaling waaaay back on internet, a bit of a fast - and I'm not scouring the web for stuff to show you. It's all original content for a bit. Hang with me. Or send me a post!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Gingermelon Obsession

Hey guys,

It's been a while since I made this one. But I'm back on it. When we were in Ethiopia for Jude's court date we had a group of kids that would trail our van in the area around the orphanage. Dirty and smiley, some would bang on our windows, some just watch and wave as we rode by. And they crave chocolate too. They could easily say "chocolate"!

Fast forward a bit. Now we're home and waiting for news from Embassy to come and get the little guy. I need something to occupy my hands while I'm waiting. This has been the hardest wait! So I've been making tiny little blessing bags. The hubs will have to pack all these to Africa himself, with all of his stuff and Jude's stuff, so it can't be big. So I turned to one of my favorite shops, Gingermelon, and bought this pattern and got to sewing. You can't tell from the pics, but these little babies are so tiny. I have no idea what's up with the sick satisfaction I get from sewing something this small by hand. I don't know what's up with that, but it's true and I love making these dolls. They are made of felt, so they're super light. Here are a few packed up in a snack sized ziplock. The older girls are getting bracelets and the boys are getting Hot Wheels. But they're all getting chocolate!

On another note, the family of the week is kicking off the day with $983. Have you donated yet, and did you see that cool video?! 

See you tomorrow, where hopefully I'll be able to tell you that we've been submitted to Embassy, and cleared in record timing! Oh, and I'll show you what the hubs has been doing to keep his hands busy. It's crafty, get your mind out of the gutter!

Monday, September 3, 2012

New Family of the Week - The Kings

Good morning, everyone! I'd like for you to meet the King family. You're in for a treat today. This is the most creative video I've seen in forever. Really fun. And I really like "Baby Africa"'s name. ;)

Didn't you just LOVE that video?! You're taking it straight to Facebook right now, right? Me too. Let's share like crazy this week. I know many people aren't going to be on the computer much this Labor Day, so let's make up for it later on during the week.

***So far you guys have donated $1,983 to Jude's adoption***

I love you all. You are so generous and kind. I love you people.