Friday, July 8, 2011

One Year Ago

One year ago I was walking on clouds because I was days away from meeting and holding our Brielle for the first time. I was in awe that our Sovereign Lord had chosen our 9th anniversary, July 20th, as our court date and praying it would be favorable. I was imagining what the day in and day out of life would look like with four kids, one of them being Ethiopian American. I was wondering how our life would change and how much richer it would be. I was thinking about the culmination of years of paperwork and waiting coming to its climax.

Today, and every day, I praise the Lord when I hear that sweet little voice calling "Mommy!" I smile with delight at her happy demeanor and energetic voice. I am thankful that she's growing like a weed and talking up a storm. I am overwhelmed at the grace of God daily when I see her play and dance, eat and drink, and walk around continuously in someone else's shoes or her flip-flops which she pronounces "eesops". She is such a gift and the labor that it took to bring her home makes her nearness all the more precious. This year has gone by faster than I ever imagined and my thankfulness for her life and adoption has only increased day by day.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Brielle is 2!

Brielle turned 2 on Feb 2nd! She was full of excitement at her princess birthday. She shrieks with delight when she is excited about something, and the house was full of exclamation that day. Our girl is growing too! We just took her to her 2 year old check up and she has caught up to the 50% from the 5% she was at the time we brought her home. She is talking in sentences now and wanting to start potty training. She wants to be fully included in whatever the older kids are doing. She also loves to say her name and the names of everyone in our family. I love hearing her say over and over, "Mommy, Daddy, Sissy, Bubba, Bubby, Brielle!" Her eyes are full of sparkle and she is thriving. I could not be more thankful and full of joy, and yet her very presence is a daily reminder of those across the nation and world who do not yet have a family to call their own. I find myself weeping in prayer often over those children even as I laugh with our beloved one. We are still battling both ringworm and impetigo, but these are minor things (though they are so contagious and persistent they are hard to conquer). As I now have two 2 year olds and am homeschooling my 2nd grader and preschooler I feel like when I wake up I blink and its time to go to bed. I am trying to capture these moments with the camera of my heart though as I know one day I'll say that it felt like I blinked and they were all grown up. What an honor it is to be "mommy" to so many precious ones!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Our Adoption Testimony for Show Hope

We finally sent in our adoption testimony to Show Hope for the wonderful blessing of the grant they gave us that helped fund our adoption. We wanted to share it here on our blog as well. We also just celebrated our first American Christmas and Ethiopian Christmas with Brielle. She is still doing so well, and I am daily overwhelmed with thanksgiving to the Lord for the gift that he has given us in her.

Our Adoption Testimony

Just days after our engagement in December of 2000, Nathan and I began to dream about what our family might one day look like. Both coming from large families,we were excited about having lots of children. We knew that adoption would be one of the ways that the Lord would grow our family in His perfect timing. Nathan grew up with a brother adopted from Vietnam and had experienced the miracle of adoption and way it blesses all who experience it. I had traveled to Kenya and experienced the Lordʼs heart for the children there and had taken several classes at Wheaton College regarding third world issues and the plight of the worldʼs orphans. Little did we know that on July 20th 2010, our ninth wedding anniversary, and exactly ten years to the date of my trip to Kenya, we would be in Ethiopia in a little court room, having a judge pronounce that our precious Bire (Brielle) was now officially our daughter (becoming our 4th child). What an amazing anniversary gift from the Lord!

The story our daughterʼs name and the dates surrounding her adoption still

overwhelm me every time I think about them. They are a manifestation of the intimate

knowledge and perfect love and leadership of the Lord over each of our lives even in

the midst of devastating circumstances. The beauty of adoption is that when there

seems to be no future and no hope, God provides a future and a hope in Himself--so

often through His Body. We felt led to begin the adoption process in January of 2009.

We spent months of research and prayer regarding the country and agency we were to

pursue. We were accepted to America Worldʼs Ethiopia program in April of 2009,

pursuing a girl 0-18 months. Shortly after we began the process, we decided on the

name Brielle for our daughter. We loved that it means “God is my strength” and began

praying for our daughter by name every day. When we we received our referral call for

a 15 month old baby girl a year later on May 20th, 2010, we were shocked when our

family coordinator began spelling her Ethiopian name B-I-R-E--pronounced “Brie”. We

were truly in awe of our God and the fact that we had been praying for our daughter

literally by name for over a year-even before she was orphaned! Our show hope grant

enabled us to accept her referral immediately. As a pastoral family with limited income,

Lordʼs provision through this ministry blessed us tremendously! When Brielle became

our daughter on our anniversary--a date chosen by the Ethiopian judge--there could not

be any greater confirmation that this was indeed the daughter God had chosen for us.

We can not wait to tell her of the love of God for her in this way as she grows up. He

truly has our days written in his book before one of them comes to be. His fingerprints

are on every single detail!

We were able to bring Brielle home on August 20th of 2010. Due to Ethiopiaʼs

two trip policy we spent about half the summer traveling and the other half packing and

unpacking. We were so thankful to finally have our whole family together! We had

been prepared in adopting a toddler for a challenging transition, but things could not

have gone more smoothly! She is one of the happiest and most delightful and engaging

little girls I have ever met! She brings daily joy to our family and all who know her. One

would never guess now that she was ever malnourished or had battled malaria multiple

times! She often looks around at all the loving faces surrounding her--family and

friends--several of whom have also been adopted and blessed by Show Hope--squints

her eyes, scrunches up her nose, puts a HUGE smile on her face and does a happy


Friday, October 22, 2010

Reflections on the Heart of God in Adoption

My husband wrote an amazing blog this summer as we were preparing to travel to bring Brielle home. It spoke perfectly the things my heart and mind had been meditating on with regards to how our adoption process has been a window into God's own heart and adoption plan. Here is the link to his post entitled "The Second Trip"

Friday, October 15, 2010

Our Health Insurance Ordeal

I can't believe it's been almost 2 months since we brought our precious Brielle home! The time has flown by, and she is adjusting so well to our family! I am so thankful she knows she is loved and taken care of, and she picks up everything so quickly. She is truly a master imitator which means that when my boys do things like "forget" their table manners, she jumps in right along with them banging her spoon and making buzzing noises. She still does the cutest little shoulder shaking dance when she is excited and lets out piercing squeals of delight.

Our biggest struggle thus far has been battling some oozing infections on her head that the doctors believe to be impetigo but could possibly be fungal in nature. She also still has diarrhea everyday leading to may diaper and out fit changes. The main reason I have not been able to put a stop to all this nonsense except by giving her antibiotics and a thorough, painful routine of picking through her hair and putting cream on all her sores is that we have been having a horrific ordeal with our health insurance company. We were told that she would be added from day 1, but being an individual family plan in Tennessee she had to go through medical underwriting which we assumed would not be a big deal since she has no chronic illness. Also, I had falsely been led to believe by several health insurance informational sites that they would be required to pay for the first 31 days of her being home. Unfortunately this is for group plans only which are regulated at the federal level and not at the State like ours. Tennessee has very few restrictions on what insurance companies may and may not do. Therefore when our company came back and said that because she was not up to date on all immunizations (being from Ethiopia where many are not available) it would be $700 extra per month to add her on in addition to what we are paying for the rest of us (which is around $400 total). The Healthcare bill is a playing a huge role in this amount! My mouth dropped as the implications of this catch 22 became evident: we would now be saddled with an $800 dollar bill from initial doctor's visits and vaccines that occurred before we found this out. Of course our small church can not afford to pay $700/month extra and of course we can not pay this huge medical bill now, but we are trusting in the Lord and praying that our doctor's office will by chance have mercy and lower the amount we now owe them.

Thankfully, there is a program called Cover Kids Tennessee for lower income families whose kids are unable to get health insurance. We just found out yesterday that beginning Nov. 1st, she will be covered by this insurance and it will most likely mean less out of pocket than our other insurance. Praise the Lord! Perhaps in a year we will apply again once she is caught up on all her vaccinations and then hopefully be added on for no additional cost.

All that said--I can't wait for Nov. 1st so I can take her in and get her labs done and scalp cultured if we manage to not be able to rid this infection before then! To all of you who are adopting and have group health insurance consider yourself very blessed. If it's individual coverage you have---make sure you know your State's laws regarding adopted children. Tennessee has no protection for adopted children in this regard. I pray that this changes in the future, but for now, I am thankful for His provision through Cover Kids.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our Family Cheerleader

Brielle is adjusting amazingly well! She is such a happy girl! I love that the first word we knew she understood is "kisses". Within a few days of being home, when she heard the word "kisses" she would either blow a kiss or kiss us on the cheek. I love that the first thing she really understood is that she is loved! She is very affectionate with her family but not so with strangers which is a really good sign in terms of attachment. She is friendly with people, but does her nervous expression which happens to be sticking her tongue out and moving it around. All of her pictures of her homecoming have her tongue out! Her first week with us in Ethiopia, she was extremely subdued and quiet. We had heard she was one of the happiest little ones in her room, but we had yet to see what they meant. Now we know they were right. She is so full of life and not quiet AT ALL. In fact, she gets so excited about everything and exclaims very loudly squeals of delight with lots of hand clapping, waving, and shoulder shaking. Well maybe not shoulder shaking quite so much, but she does love to dance, and for all those who know anything about Ethiopian dance--it is all about the shoulders, so we'll have to show her some of the moves as she grows up.
Brielle is now saying several words and even 2 word phrases such as Bye-bye Dada as she waves to him going to work as well as "up", "mama" and "pup-pa" for our new puppy. Yes we did just get a new puppy 2 days ago just in case things weren't new and exciting enough already--more about that next post.
We are still dealing with her impetigo which keeps popping up on her scalp and are about to start round two of antibiotics. I ended up bringing ringworm home from Ethiopia, so the two of us have been itching like crazy! Thankfully my sores are starting to clear up and hopefully hers will soon too. I've had her on soy toddler formula to give her a break from lactose while she was having diarrhea and it seems to have helped. I am hoping she is not permanently lactose intolerant, but we shall see. For now, I'm just thankful I'm not having to change her outfits 4 times a day anymore.
Somehow, I have begun homeschool with my daughter Kendra and am praying the Lord gives me amazing grace and strategy to accomplish everything I need to. There are literally not enough hours in the day, but somehow they must all be done! I feel like I am being stretched beyond my limits, but know that the Lord is expanding me in so many ways for His Glory and my maturity! I love that His mercies and strength are new every morning!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We're Home with our Brielle!

This has been a whirlwind month! Only 2 weeks after we returned home, we got a phone call that we were cleared for embassy on the 18th and left a few days later! We were so blessed to get an embassy date less than one month from our court date! We have been home for a week and a half now and Brielle is doing great. She is so precious and fitting right into our family. She has struggled with some sickness since being home but is doing better and sleeping and eating well. She knows the word "kisses" and loves giving them to her mommy and daddy and brothers and sister. She also waves when I say hi or bye and seems to be understanding things pretty quickly. We are enjoying her exploring everything and taking great laugh out loud delight in the simplest of things like the swing in our backyard. We are so thankful to the Lord for the gift of her life. My mom and sister were able to be here for the first week which was very special a HUGE blessing in so many ways. My sons both got croup and my youngest one was extremely sick, so between Brielle and Bryan, we spent 3 out of 5 days at the doctor's office. Thankfully everyone is feeling better and we are getting a taste of what our new "normal" as a family is like. I feel like I'm sprinting to catch up with the rest of life that was put on hold during this last month, but I couldn't be more grateful for the fabulous end to our adoption process and this wonderful new beginning with our Ethiopian princess!