A sparrow when I'm broken, and eagle when I fly.....

Welcome to my world. I am an ordinary wife and mom who has been extraordinarily blessed by an amazing husband and house full of beautiful children. My prayer is that you will be somehow blessed by our family's story. It is a tale of God's grace and forgiveness...His loving kindness and patience with us His children as we strive & struggle everyday to bless His name with our lives

Sunday, September 20, 2009

No Longer MIA

I'm back and no longer "Missing In Action". I leave in one hour for the airport. Pasco-Seattle-WA DC- Addis Ababa Ethiopia! Finally Judah Gezehegn is coming home. It is a short trip for me, just 3 1/2 days in Addis and gone a total of only 7 days. I am so excited to get Judah Gezehegn in my arms and be able to visit Assefa. I will have to go back to Ethiopia after Assefa passes court to get him, hopefully by November.

I have really been out of the loop since baby Jarib came home three months ago. How about a speed reader catch up?

Jake, Holly, grand kids Silas and Lauren came for a nice visit after I got home from Alabama. Holly is having a new baby next month! Pray for her and their new baby daughter to be. We also went later in summer to Brookings where Jake and Holly live for vacation. It was so beautiful there and I think it was the best vacation I have ever had. We visited the beach everyday and stayed in a cabin up the river. Not camping out in the rain sure has it's benefits.

Jarib started getting casts on his legs to correct his club feet as soon as we got back to WA state. I drive him to Shriners Hospital for his casts and he also has had lots of other appointments in Spokane to see neurosurgeon for CAT scans and to check the pressure in his head. No VP shunt yet and this is TERRIFIC news. Jarib has had four surgeries in his short life...his spinal repair in AL, then since coming here surgery for spine wound repair, another for a HUGE hernia, and last week had his heel cords cut(for club feet). Poor guy is such a trooper. Unless he is in pain from getting new casts he is such an easy going little guy. I am SOOOO ready to be done with making the trips to Spokane for casting and I know Jarib is too. He is smiling and laughing now and constantly cooing and "talking" that adorable baby singing talk. We are all enjoying him so much. I am weeping as I write this to know I am LEAVING my baby in one hour for seven days! ugh. Jarib will be with my sister Katie when Mike is at work this coming week so he will be well cared for and loved on I am sure.

All the kids started school a few weeks ago and are liking it a lot. Yasab is even in public school this year. Solomon is in Preschool four afternoons a week, Tamar MyHao in 1st grade, Maggie, Berhanu and Josiah are in 2nd grade, Anna and Miriam in 4th grade, Meseret in 6th and enjoying her first year in middle school, Yasab in 9th grade and Tigist in 10th. Michael is working as checker at Safeway and saving money before picking back up at CBC to finish his degree. Mulu Hope is out of Job Core and on her own. Roza and Haimanot still finishing up Job Core. Kayla as always is a huge help and is watching the kids again for my trip to Ethiopia.

The whole family LOVED the AAI (Adoption Advocates International) get together at Warm Beach Camp. So fun to see all the families with adopted kids and catch up with my email friends. Of course the teen Ethio girls were in heaven.

Early September Maggie, Jarib and Solomon all had a couple days of clinic appointments at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Mike and I mostly just trying to keep our head above water. Strive for a little sleep, a little peace, and keeping the kids belly's full and clean clothes on their backs. We just want all our little ones home...and are longing for the day that Judah Gezehegn AND Job Assefa are both home. Psssss...we also are praying that big chick Cody will be moving back to town, and maybe another one of our grown kids too.....

I am not taking laptop to Ethiopia but may be able to access facebook or give Mike info to share on blog.

God is doing such amazing things. We feel we do live life on a battle field sometimes more than others. Serving a living powerful King is exhilarating and wonderfully rewarding....but we do get bloodied and beaten up at times. Pray for us. We have been so blessed in so many ways, but we are still get weak and tired and weary needing to remember constantly to fill up with His living water.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Great News!!


Introducing our new son....Judah Gezehegn Feser. He passed court in Ethiopia yesterday. It was the last day court was open before they close it for rainy season...not to be reopened until October. It has been a long battle and AAI has jumped through a lot of hoops to get his paperwork in order. His paperwork delays were numerous and varied but it finally all came together. We are overjoyed to say he is all "ours" now! Our little Assefa's file will be complete in a day or so. Assefa had needed a newly required letter from town where he was found and it took quite awhile to get it. Too late to get through before court closure but he should be able to pass as soon as they reopen in October. It has been such a battle for these little boys this past year. One thing after another. I truly was starting to doubt they would ever come home. Now....Gezehegn is! Yah!!!

With a baby at home and Mike not having any vacation days we had thought to use the escort option when the boys passed court. It adds time to their homecoming if we choose to use an escort rather than one of us travel. Once Gezehegn passed court yesterday we knew there was NOTHING that was going to cause us to delay his homecoming even one more day. I agonize over leaving baby Jarib here at home but we think this is best option. (I'd bring him with me if Mike would let me!) I will make it as quick a trip to Addis as possible to pick up Gezehegn. It is good I will be able to visit Assefa at AHOPE again. He is almost 14 months old now and we have concerns for his health. At least we know he is happy at AHOPE but it sure will be good to see his sweet face in person again.

I think I will be leaving third week in September but will know for sure later this next week. I am so happy our Judah Gezehegn will be in my arms again soon.

I know I disappeared on all of you. I think it is the longest I have ever gone without posting. Lots of reasons. I will try to update more on baby and family later (promise)

Praising God for His perfect timing and for our new son Judah

Friday, June 26, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Jarib and I got home to WA state last night. My friends outside of Mobile came and got us in Birmingham for a visit with them. It was so wonderful to spend time with them..More of our visit with them later. Then Wednesday I got the call from lawyer that we had interstate compact approval . Yah!!! Got a plane ticket home for Thursday. I got a big smacking kiss from Heaven when I was mistakenly put in first class all the way from Houston to Seattle. Boy was that nice! Mike picked me up at the airport and I just sobbed to hold my man again. The kids all just adore the baby of course. Jarib very quickly has learned that he likes to be help 24/7 and luckily there are lots of arms waiting their turns to hold him. I am exhausted but oh so happy to be home. I got to see Mulu before she had to leave and Cody comes tomorrow and Roza next week. I think Jake and Holly are coming for visit next weekend. Everyone wants to meet their new baby brother. I am loving have a baby again but will need to start implementing nap time. That means ME having nap time when littles are having their afternoon rest. I need it after being up with Jarib at night. I feel a bit like a zoombie today. Thank you all for your prayers for this sweet boy. Jarib has appointments in Spokane July 6th-7th for VP shunt and also his club feet.

Now keep up the prayers for Assefa and Gezehegn to pass court and get home too.

Julee

Friday, June 19, 2009

Alone At Last


Jarib and I moved to Ronald McDonald House yesterday afternoon. Monday he sees his neurosurgeon to check his head size. Except for that appointment we are free just to hang out here at RMH and enjoy each other. Jarib LOVES being worn in a baby sling, He LOVES getting to eat whenever he is hungry and not on a hospital schedule. I miss the rest of the family but am sure enjoying my time with him....just mommy and Jarib. I'm so homesick but am committed to cherishing every moment of this time together.

Today Mike and I had to sign a "At-Risk Placement Regarding Indian Heritage" and fax it back to lawyer. Every once in awhile the fear of losing Jarib to the tribe will cross my mind and my heart races and my blood runs cold. The I remind myself quickly that God orchestrated all the events leading us adopt Jarib. No matter what happens in the future we are just where we are suppose to be right now. No matter what happens He will be with us and our baby. We have to wait here for interstate compact approval between Alabama and Washington. As soon as I get that "okay" we'll be getting a flight home!

Yesterday while still at the hospital we had a nice visit with Jarib's birth parents. I was able to get some photos of him with each of them alone and all together. The plan is for an open adoption with sharing of photos, letters, phone calls etc...Mike and I know this is a huge blessing for Jarib. So many of our children have no contact nor any information about their birth parents. Some feel deeply the loss and "blankness" of biological knowledge. Some of our kids suffer a lot of pain because of continued knowledge and contact with bio family. It's a mixed up bag of good and bad emotions. So far the good in birth parent contact outweighs the bad.

Baby has full tummy and sleeping. I think I should go scoop him up just to snuggle in his peacefulness and baby sleeping sweetness. Those newborn baby funny faces are priceless but don't last forever....I don't want to miss a single one.


Julee

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baby Bliss 24 Hours A Day...


I now have our darling Jarib 24 hours a day! It started out yesterday with a CAT scan at 4:00 AM. His head size hadn't grown and neurosurgeon on duty said he was;t ready for a VP shunt yet ad to follow up in weeks. I guess his ventricles are not even enlarged enough to put a shunt in. Wouldn't it be awesome if he never needed one!?!

So my question was "why does this baby need to be in hospital?". I have to spend a day or two in a "rooming in" room and then can be discharged to RMH. (Ronald McDonald House) So I now have our little guy all to myself in a regular room. Jarib has no monitors or wires attached to him. The staff just check his vitals a few times a day. We are left alone together to bask in mommy/baby bliss. It is lovely. I have to watch a car seat video and do the CPR training this morning. Monday he sees his neurosurgeon in clinic to check his head size etc...

So the only obstacles now to homecoming are just the court stuff (birth parents need to go to court this afternoon to sign their final papers) and interstate compact stuff. Please pray that court goes smoothly today and that the approval from interstate compact offices come back quickly. Mike at home sounds tired. Kids at home are okay but want mommy home.

thanks friends!
Julee

Monday, June 15, 2009

Prayer

Mostly I pray by just talking to God as I go about my day. In my "normal" life most days I never have a quiet moment to sit down for official "Quiet Time" with the Lord. I used to get up at 4:30-5:00 AM for my quiet time...but now when I get up early there are little ones up too. Tamar MyHao wakes at the slightest noise and is often found up long before sunrise. It's just very difficult to find a quiet time at home. I live for my long walks along the river. The big girls watch the kids for me and I try to take a walk a hour or more at least once a day. It becomes a nice private talk with the Lord enjoying His handiwork in the beauty along the river paths. When I have a child in the hospital I have the loveliest quiet times. There are endless quiet hours to sit by the bedside of a sleeping child. Now,like many times before in the past I find myself beside the bed of a much loved child. Worries and concern float around my consciousness constantly. I am mostly alone with no family and friends here. What a grand opportunity for the Lord to fill me up! How wonderful it is to find myself in a place where all I have is God to count on. Of course that is always true. Every day. Every moment. Every breath we take comes from Him. But it is just too easy to be so busy in regular daily life and not focus on Him. Finding myself scared, lonely and needy makes me hungrier for Him. Great need is a great thing. Talking to Him. Praising Him. Listening to Him. It's all praying. On my knees beseeching Him for my desires (court in Ethiopia, Jarib's healing, family at home, etc...) At the elevator asking Him for food to be in cafeteria without gluten that I can eat. In the NICU waiting room asking Him for perfect words to share with others what He has done for us. Asking Him while getting caught in downpour on the walk from hospital to RMH to keep me from getting so wet that I am "indecent" looking for mixed company. It's all prayer. Here is a great quote below.

The only way to pray
is to pray;

and the only way to pray well
is to pray much.

If one has no time for this,
then one must at least pray regularly.

But the less one prays,
the worse it goes."

~ John Chapman

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Introducing.....

One of the world's most adorable babies..

Jarib Ezekiel Feser



Jarib is a Hebrew word that means "he will fight". As a verb: “he will fight”, like in the verse “Rob not the poor, because he is poor, neither oppress the afflicted in the gate, for the Lord will plead their cause (יָרִיב רִיבָם) and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.” Proverbs 22, 22-23. Ezekiel means "God will strengthen or God's champion". We prayed about the perfect name for our new baby and feel that Jarib Ezekiel is a powerful name that well suits this precious baby. We pray he will someday be a mighty champion for God and he will in the Lord's name fight and plead the cause of those afflicted and oppressed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

no shunt today

Surgery postponed again for baby. The ped neurosurgeon on duty today felt that it wasn't quite time yet (or bad enough) to do the VP shunt on baby. It will be reevaluated throughout the weekend and Monday. I have been praying that it would self resolve and he wouldn't need a shunt. Keep praying for that. It would awesome for him if he didn't need one. There is talk of him going to private room or even being discharged to Ronald McDonald House with me. No hurry though, they will talk about that Monday too. He is eating better today and is awake a lot more. He is so much fun to spend time with!

Julee

Great Christain Fiction

So in my "off" hours out of the NICU I have been reading. I started a great book on the plane and finished it and also part 2 of the series. The author is named Allison Pittman. Book one is called "Ten Thousand Charms" and book two is "Speak Through The Wind". (too bad I have never figured out how to post cute links to outside info on my blog....must learn that soon!) I ordered the third book in series last night from Amazon to be shipped to me here at Ronald McDonald House. I know I am not the only Francine Rivers fan. Her "Redeeming Love" is a classic and the fiction book that most changed my life. Yasab fell in love with Jesus reading "Redeeming Love". These books by Allison Pittman remind me of "Redeeming Love". Just had to share!

Off to NICU. Visiting hours start at 9:00AM and I like to be there waiting and watching the clock to get right in there to gaze at that beautiful face! As it stands now his shunt surgery is #4 on the schedule and will happen around 12:30-1:00 PM.

Julee

Thursday, June 11, 2009

update on ET court and VP shunt

No news from Ethiopia today. Assefa had court. A few cases passed but mostly the news was that MOWA letters were not ready. Agency has emailed to find out specifically about Assefa. I am assuming that the needed info on non existent birth father of Gezehegn is still missing so both still in limbo land. ugh

Our sweet baby boy here in Alabama NICU needs a VP shunt. He was going to have surgery yesterday and was NPO (no food) till 2:00PM when we were told he had been bumped to Friday for surgery. He has become a sluggish bottle feeder (swallowing is one skill you lose with inter cranial pressure) and is very sleepy. I hear that the surgery schedule is packed for tomorrow and he may be bumped to first thing Saturday. ugh. Poor baby. I shared with staff in NICU today that I am used to older child with VP shunt where you just don't mess around with even suspicion that the child needs surgery. Newborns skulls have so much "give" that it really isn't an emergency. Relaxing about postponing shunt placement though goes against ever fiber of my being and it totally out of my comfort zone. I always like to say how good it is for all of us to step out of our comfort zones....It may be good for me but I still can't wait until he has a working shunt and a flat fontanel. Wanna see a pretty head still without a shaved spot and shunt showing under skin? Here he is...

Ooops...I can not seem to add photos. I think the dial up connection is too slow at Ronald McDonald to do photos. I will try later. There is wireless in downstairs family room that I can try tonight.

Julee

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

1 Year and God's Math

One year ago Mike and I officially started a new adoption. We had known we would adopt again but weren't sure when we would be ready. We were still raw from Jonathan's death in April. The only thing we could do was to keep to the path God had laid before us. Though we felt beaten and defeated in grief's rough hands, we HAD to remain the people God had created us to be. It was a big step in our healing process. Sometimes it feels like "you" have died when you bury someone. Being who God made you to be reminds you that you are still alive.

We'd had for a long time the picture of a little girl named Edelawit in Ethiopia on our frig. She was sitting on the lap of a nun next to a friend's child-to-be. We loved this little girl. Beware: putting orphan's kids pics on your frig reminds you to pray for them and you also fall in love with them! We started the paperwork for her and also asked to be matched with a baby boy. Our family had been through so much with Jonathan's illness the last few years. For this reason we chose to do easiest adoption (younger than our youngest at home) and easiest special need (HIV). We found out about Assefa our baby boy at AHOPE shortly before our dossier went to Ethiopia in August. We "thought" our kids would be home in November. Sadly we lost the referral for our sweet girl while visiting Addis in Oct. We added our adorable Down Syndrome toddler Gezehegn to Assefa's adoption.

We never imagined that we would have found ourselves here a year later still waiting for our new kids. That is so often the way isn't it? We begin to a course knowing what God wants us to do and "thinking" we know how it will turn out. Stuff happened "worse" than I ever imagined. Stuff like losing our little girl's referral and endless ridiculous delays for the boys. And stuff happened "better" than I ever imagined. Big stuff like being here in AL a year later loving on this precious baby boy. Big stuff like three trips to Ethiopia in the last year where God worked in HUGE ways in a lot of lives. God's math at work. When things seem like disaster to us; God is powerfully working in ways not possible if stuff had turned out that way we wanted it too.

What equals "good" and "bad" in God's math is totally different that the math of good and bad of this world. This world calls "bad" the sick, weak, and needy. In God's math our weakness and poverty of spirit are "good" (for us). Our pain, frustrations and great neediness is what causes us to call out to God. When we approach him with our brokenness and emptiness is when He swoops down and feeds us His riches. He fills us up with Himself and heals us. Then He shows us how to share His love with others. We share because God Stuff is too exciting and fantastic not to share.

Father in Heaven, thank you that Your ways are perfect and Your riches exceed our wildest dreams. Thank you when You reveal more of Your love to us in our pain and need. Help us when things seem bad here in our temporary home...to seek You and Your comfort. Use Lord even our hardest times in this world to refine us and mold us into the children to You that You created us to be. Amen

Julee
Things are going good here in Baby Land. Our baby is thriving. He was allowed to get off his tummy yesterday afternoon (5 days post spinal repair) and this made eating MUCH easier for him. Imagine trying to learn to take a bottle flat on your stomach with your head lower than your bottom?! I have been able to hold him and feed him and he is loving it. So am I! Everyone in NICU is still looking towards a VP shunt but since it isn't "emergency" at this point they are giving him a few more days. There is a chance the fluid on brain issue may resolve itself though that seems unlikely. A part of me sort of wished if they had to do it they do it sooner so he could be discharged sooner.....BUT if he doesn't need a shunt yet that would be better. It is worth waiting just to be sure. Once you have a VP shunt you have it for life. It's a big deal and one to avoid if at all possible.

Some of the drama with birth parent issues is dieing down. God is blessing my socks off with HIS presence. I am constantly finding myself in tears. I can handle most all things without crying. But feeling God working, talking about Him to others, seeing the miracles He works, and basking in His extravagant grace and love towards me....well, all that stuff makes me cry. There's something about His spirit moving that makes my eyes leak out all the time.

I can tell you that He is in this situation 1000%. He loves us and loves this baby. He has a very special plan for this child. He told me. I have such peace. I know that no matter what ever happens in the coming months that we are right where our Father wants us, and that He is working His good purposes in this time.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

from Baby Land

Our new baby is doing really well. I will post his name and pic next week ..but till then believe me when I say he is gorgeous! The bandage is off his back and his "repair" is healing up nicely. He seems ready to be able to get off his stomach. He only needs to stay on stomach with his head lower that his bottom for five days after surgery, so Monday..tomorrow he should be able to be in more natural positions. It's hard to bottle feed laying on your tummy. He is doing pretty well eating but he still gets fatigued and frustrated with the awkward position. They have been slowly upping the amount of formula they want him to take. Whatever he doesn't take by the bottle is fed via NG tube. So far no signs he needs a VP shunt but I am still counting on that happening. He is still cathed every 12 hours but there is little urine left in bladder. He wets his diapers a lot though. This is great! and I believe they will stop the cathing today. He does leak stool constantly and has sore bottom because of it. He does move his legs a tiny bit. Less than he did before surgery. He seems to feel some when I touch his legs so I am happy about that!

Within the next few days the staff will be meeting with me again to discuss when he will be discharged. After discharge I will have to stay here longer for adoption related paperwork. The paperwork issues I mentioned before was that it came out once I got here that birth Dad is Native American. This is a situation that requires new paperwork filed in court and "permission" from the tribe. Please pray. We are hoping it helps that Mike's "Little Grandma" was full blooded Native American and that we practice such strong cultural respect and education with all our children; both bio and adopted. The issues with the Tribe will not keep me from coming home with baby but could in future complicate finalizing adoption.

I am spending every second I can in NICU with baby and once back at RMH (Ronald McDonald House)I am so exhausted I can hardly think let alone get post. I realized I need to start eating better and sleeping more while here. The high level of emotions seems to equate to exhaustion. Anyone else notice that? Like you are way more tired when your emotions are climbing peaks and valleys all day long?

I have been so blessed by the time I have spent with birth mom and dad. It's sad that Mike can't be here for this. When we come back in three months to finalize adoption Mike will be able to meet birth parents. Adoption always has grief and loss attached. No matter newborn adoption with known birth parents, foster care adoption, international adoption. No matter the age, situation or type of adoption....it is always a journey filled with extremes of emotions and contrasts of those who gaining and losing.

Keep praying for baby and his healing. Keep praying for Mike as he finishes the "outage" at work. Keep praying for Kayla as she cares for the kids at home. KEEP praying for all my kids! I have a grown chick who is hurting and this hen just wants to be able to scoop 'em up under my wings. I have to give that over to the Father's sheltering wings. I miss the kids at home and have no idea when I will be home with them. I am SOOO thankful for Kayla and that I can know all is well at home.

Even though I am in Baby Land and falling deeper and deeper in love with our little guy every second.....my heart still aches for our boys in Ethiopia. I can not help but fear for them and the continued delays. Assefa has a new court date on June 11. This was moved up from his late June date so that was good news! Gezehegn STILL needs more info for MOWA and court about birth parents. Imagine how hard it is to track down a beggar women who relinquished a child years ago? ugh. Pray for Gezehegn's needed paperwork so he can come home to us.

Love, Julee

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Baby Blessings!!

I'm in Alabama with a beautiful baby boy! Found out baby was coming Tuesday morning. I got off the plan early Wednesday morning. It's been a wonderful whirlwind since then. It's about midnight Thursday night and I have Internet for the first time. Had to share our news with my blogging buddies! Too exhausted to write much but I will have much more opportunities to get online now.

Baby had his repair surgery yesterday (for spina bifida). He is doing good. They have a great NICU here. They are watching him for for signs he will need VP shunt. He is adorable! Some paperwork glitches with adoption (I expect this nowadays, I am cynical?) Baby is adorable! Oh, did I say that already?

Love, Julee
blown away with baby love fever

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

another delay for our little boys

This is what I heard regarding Assefa's court today...

"For Assefa Feser, he was given a negative recommendation due to an error on the paperwork. In the file are a two letters, one is a police paper and then the approval letter from the Oromia office. There are about 20 children on the approval letter, and most of the other children have already passed. The approval letter makes reference to both letters in the file, by stating the letter number and letter date. In doing so they accidentally put the month as 07 instead of 03, though all the other details in the approval letter were correct. This is now going to have to be corrected. XXXXX from Shashemene is coming on Friday to take it and get it corrected. The new court date is June 22nd........."

I haven't heard any news about Gezehegn. I imagine that even if Gezehegn's paperwork was in order the court would not hear his case as Assefa's failed. This is so discouraging.

Julee

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Baby & Silver Linings

I think; it seems like; and I keep trying to have faith...that we are having a new baby!! No better news than that is possible. Several weeks ago I saw an email from another adoptive mom about the search for a family for a baby boy due end of June with Spina Bifida. I responded kind of flippantly " who could turn down a newborn?!! "we were all over that!!!" Never did I expect any return emails or really sincere feedback about the possibility of Mike and I being chosen to parent this baby!? But guess what happened?! they chose us!? We prayed that if we were the best thing for this baby that all doors would fly open or if this was not best thing for the baby or our family that doors would slam shut. So the doors flew wide open. Before we knew it we realized it really looked like we are getting a teeny tiny newborn! What a very cool and amazing thing to happen! We are SO VERY MUCH excited about this baby boy. He is due June 20 but we think he will be born via c-section sooner than that. Right now I am ready to hop a plane as soon as we know he is will be born. Silver lining in dark clouds: NEVER would we have considered or responded to email about adopting a baby had we just brought home two little boys from Ethiopia. Or if I was preparing to travel any second to ET to fetch Gezehegn or Assefa home. Really we never would have considered this baby had our boys in ET come home when expected. Never did we dream God would bring us another tiny baby. We are SOOO excited. He (the baby) is real to us and we already love him so much. We have prayed for the perfect name for this little boy. We know that like all our children and all the rest of us; that God has a perfect plan for this child. How exciting!

We need prayers for this baby. We need prayers for his birth parents and all they are going through. We need prayers for God's perfect timing for baby's birth and my travel and Mike' work schedule when I am out of town. I will travel to be with our new baby when he is born and when he has surgery for spina bifida. Hopefully he will have a speedy recovery and the interstate compact office (between WA and AL) will okay travel quickly so he can come home as soon as possible!

Silver linings. Think I will name them "platinum linings". I would never have chosen to delay Assefa or Gezehegn's homecoming for anything. But if they were not delayed we would never have considered this new baby. This is why I can trust His timing. This is why I trust Him.

Julee
in waiting with happy expectations

Proof Of Miracles



I love this photo of Anna, Josiah and Maggie. I offer it to you as a gift from our past. This photo is taken in Johannesburg, South Africa in our hotel room in June 2002.

Anna is just 2 years old and had only been home from China 6 months. The wait for her was super painful for me. She was our first adoption and I thought I would go insane waiting for her. We were delayed a bit with 9/11 but finally united with her at Christmas time 2001. We had known from the start of our adoption we wanted to adopt another little girl someday. We thought Anna should have a sibling closer to her age as there was just Michael age 11 at home then. We had sent a dossier to Cambodia the previous fall but adoptions from Cambodia closed down the week we were in China. Our agency at the time also had an adoption program in SA (South Africa). We switched programs and sent our dossier there. SA allowed the adoption of two unrelated children. I too this day can not believe Mike said "okay" when I asked if we could ask for TWO babies. We started the wait for two infants under 12 months of age, healthy or mild special needs. Our dossier had only been in SA a week when our facilitator called and asked us about two babies. There was a 9 mos old girl with a VP shunt for hydrocephalus and a 11 mos old boy with cerebral palsy. We were emailed their medical records and looked them over. It was just too much for us and we said "no" without ever seeing their photo. It felt like their medical issues were too extreem for us to deal with. A month went by before Mike and I came to each other and confessed that we had been wrong to say no. Even though we were scared to death of it all...we knew that God wanted us to say "yes" to these two babies in South Africa. So that is how we found ourselves in that hotel room. Still scared to death about what was ahead..but madly in love with these babies. We knew what a miracle they were and how much God had done to being them to us.

Josiah was left for dead as a newborn weighing just under 2 lbs. In the orphanage they kept waiting for him to die and didn't expend too much time on him till he was about 8 mos old. The Sister told me they then felt like he had a chance and he started to eat more and gain a bit of weight. He didn't move his legs and his feet were not developed. When we brought him home at 13 mos old he weighed 11 lbs. It was a miracle Josiah was ever found and brought to orphanage. It was a miracle he survived all those months on the weak formula he was fed by dripping the milk from teaspoon down his throat. When he came home he could barely sit up, couldn't crawl, use his legs or eat anything by mouth except fluid from a bottle.

Maggie was born to a very young mom dieing of AIDS. Maggie was born healthy but was HIV+. At one week of age she stopped breathing and "coded" and they resuscitated her. At one month they discovered she was had hydrocephalus (fluid on her brain) and she had surgery to place a VP shunt. The fluid on her brain was due to when she coded and had a brain bleed. The VP shunt was a miracle. They just don't do that for orphaned HIV tribal babies there. Sister Glorina loved Maggie and prayed over her daily. Usually at that time babies were not retested for HIV until they were over 18 mos old. If the babies were a false HIV+ then it would show them HIV- by 18 mos. Often babies died before reaching that age from virus' and diarrhea that swept through the orphanage. Sister Glorina wanted so much for Maggie to have a chance she had her retested for HIV at 8 mos of age. She was HIV-! There are more accurate ways of testing at this time but in 2001 it was not known if a baby was truly HIV+ or just testing that way due to bio mom's antibodies for HIV. At that time the adoption of foreign born HIV+ children was not allowed by the U.S. Since Maggie was now HIV- she could be adopted. When the time came to travel to SA for Maggie and Josiah we found out that the doctors and court decided Maggie was too ill and brain damaged to be adopted. I flew ahead of time to Johannesburg to address the court and the doctors to convince them that Maggie was worth adopting! So many miracles happened to Maggie before we ever even met her. When she came to us at 11 mos of age age she weighed almost 8 lbs. Once home the doctors here felt she would have only lasted another few weeks if she had not been taken from the orphanage and received aggressive medical care. Her body was in starvation mode and it took months to turn her health around. We could tell she had cerebral palsy but it was impossible to tell how affected she would be.

Adopting Anna was a scary thing for us. We had 7 bio kids that were about all grown. We had never much thought about adoption. We had NO IDEA the miracle it was to be given a child from God through adoption. If adopting the first time was scary, then adopting Maggie and Josiah was petrifying! All our fears came true. They were very very sick kids. Josiah did wind up learning to use his legs just fine. His first few years were fraught with lots of medical issues but he is now an average 8 year old. Maggie wound up being more affected than we imagined. I was so afraid of having a child that couldn't walk and had cerebral palsy. I wasn't even aware of the rest of the stuff to be afraid of! G-tubes and seizures. Getting up several times a night for the rest of my life turning her body as she can not mover herself. Near death VP shunt failures. Fighting insurance for medical equipment and supplies. The hardest thing of all.....looking into those eyes of hers that understand so much and seeing her frustrations with her own body. Never hearing her speak. Loving her so much and knowing she just wants what every little princess wants but she can not have. Knowing we can easily lose her at any time.

When we stepped out in faith and obeyed God to adopt Maggie and Josiah we were clueless. We had fears that seem so meaningless now. Stuff can actually be way worse at times than we ever imagined. Mostly we were clueless about what God was gifting us with. Josiah and Maggie are wonderful blessings from God just like any child. Maggie is so affected physically and so powerless in her surroundings. She is at the mercy of others for every single thing. She is a lot of work. But she is by far the VERY BEST thing that has ever happened to us except for Jesus dieing on the cross. All those fears we had...but no idea what incredible wonders and pure joy he was bringing to us in Maggie.

When I look at this picture taken in that South African hotel room, I can remember how afraid I had been. I remember my worries for the future. But mostly I remember how it began to sink in how many miracles God had worked to save these precious babies. My babies! How when things looked hopeless to those around them their first months, God saved them. When all doubted they would live long He brought them just in time to a family and U.S. medical care. He has a plan for them. And a wonderful part of the plan He had for mine and Mike's lives was to bring these amazing children into our world. God's blessings unfold and are revealed daily like an amazing masterpiece being created. How can I doubt His best and perfect choices when He has proven over and over again HE is the God of miracles? How can I doubt that Assefa and Gezehegn are not being held safely in His hands? I can't. How can I doubt that everything will be okay? I can't

Julee

Our Champion & Our Enemy

I have struggled with how to post about the situation in Ethiopia. I struggle with how to not live in constant agony and worry that Assefa and Gezehegn will ever pass court. Sometimes I just function by trying to not even think about it...keeping my mind on things here at home and just day to day stuff. They ARE our sons though. We may not have passed court so that legally they are "ours" but they are TOTALLY ours in our hearts. Making the visit trips and spending so much time with them makes it impossible for them to remain an abstract dream. Sometimes when you have a referred child and just a photo to look at it is easier to keep emotions in check and wonder if your child is even "real". Once you meet them you can touch them, smell them, hear their cry and their giggles. Then they are part of your real life experience and no longer just a picture on the frig. (have no doubts though that waiting for your child who is only a picture.... still is horribly LONG and PAINFUL!)

Court stuff has been a seemingly never ending process of delays. The delays have ranged from missing letters from original orphanage where Gezehegn was placed years ago too electricity being out on day of court so it was canceled. Court not agreeing to split cases of Assefa and Gezehegn (more paperwork for court). Huge batches of cases failing court after our agency had hired a new attorney and MOWA insisted the old POA (power of attorney) wouldn't cut it. MOWA not writing approval letters for cases without court date and court saying no new court dates until MOWA wrote letters. sigh. I only share a few of these court delay details. For those adopting themselves who are obsessively interested with court happenings there are way better resources to hear the facts than from me. I only give a short overview for those of you not obsessed with Ethiopian court happenings. Just understand that it just ain't the same ball game it was a few years ago. Ethiopian adoption court and government has been implementing a system whereas to protect their country's children from fraud, illegal activity and immoral practices. That bad stuff can happen and has happened elsewhere. When there is a "market" for healthy babies there will be those who want to make money at the expense of children and families.

Our agency AAI has done everything they can in our case. I trust them. The Ethiopian court and MOWA has been trying to do the right thing in our case. Not one person that I know of has maliciously tried to cause our boys harm. But the delays are harming them. Who do you know that would want to keep an immune compromised HIV+ baby boy or an ill toddler with Down Syndrome from a loving family? Who would choose NOT to help them if they had the chance? Who would put up road block after road block to keep them alone and endanger their lives? Who would try to keep them in an institution as they continue to get older and older causing them more developmental and attachment delays? Who would choose to keep them undernourished and exposed to multiply parasites, diseases and infection? Their enemy is not any one person or bureaucrat. Their enemy is much more evil than an ignorant office peon or overworked stressed out staff person. Their enemy is my enemy too and the only guy I am furious with. Guess what though? This is an enemy we can fight. Because the war is already won. The skirmishes and battles can knock me down though sometimes. In this battle we only have one way to FIGHT. We keep our eyes on Jesus and our ear turned to the Lord. And PRAY! God gave us such an awesome thing in prayer. He chose to make use of the prayers of His saints to accomplish His good and perfect will. When I pray to God about Assefa and Gezehegn so far away ...well, really I am praying cus "I" want them home. But what happens when I pray is that I get more in line with the Father's heart. I get closer to Him. I learn more about Him. And I hope I become just a tiny bit more like Him.

Please PRAY!!. Assefa has a court date the 27th on Wednesday. (it was suppose to be April 27th after failed date on April 3rd but was mistakenly added instead to May 27) Gezehegn's court file has been "open". It is in stack of cases that failed due to POA thing. They will be heard as court has time in normal scheduled docket. NOT heard by which case is longest waiting or sickest kids :-(. Most recently court or MOWA (I forget which) asked about Gezehegn's birth father and wanted more info before passing his case. There is no info. So AAI has been working on getting a letter from director of KT the first orphanage he was at. The letter can only say there is no info and they have investigated the matter all they can. Hopefully AAI will have the completed letter before Wednesday's court. Then both Assefa and Gezehegn could pass! With so many delays I dare to even have hope or excitement about court. I do feel SO VERY convicted to PRAY though and ask you all too also. Pray against the enemy's schemes to cause harm to these precious children and discouragement to us. Pray for our boys' health and protection. Pray that paperwork is all in order so they can pass court. Pray that God continues to give us perfect peace about His timing.

We have a Champion. He goes before us and stands behind us. He loves us and only wants the most perfect best ever things for us. He is all powerful and he fights for us. Gosh I love Him. Thank you Yahweh God.

Julee
Happy Memorial Day!
I am loving having the kids home today, trying to keep them quiet as Mike is sleeping and goes to work tonight. Better go to the park

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New "me"



I visited the my hair designer this week. I LOVE getting my hair done. Usually I am so overdue for a trim or coloring (covering my slowly graying roots) that I don't go till I absolutely can not stand how my hair looks. I made a change this time. This photo is hard to see but she didn't due the highlights throughout whole head of hair. The bottom was all died a rich dark brown, and only top was foiled and highlights with the brown and really blond. It is pretty different but I am happy with it. Mike LOVES the dark color on me. I should put this post under my "money well spent" group because the $110 I spent to get a cut and super coloring made me feel like a million bucks, not just 110 bucks!

Julee
hipper and younger looking today

Beer Bread

To break my several weeks hiatus from posting...I have something fun for you! Someone posted on an Ethio adoption group I am on, about a bread recipe that her Ethio kids loved. It reminded them of the bread baked in Ethiopia. I tried it and is is very similar to the yeasty white bread served at Layla for breakfast or with tea for the nanny's snack time. Mmmmm. I just had to try this recipe to see if it really worked (and it was good excuse to buy beer too) Recipe is 3 cups of self rising flour, 1 bottle of beer, and 1/3 cup of sugar. Stir it all together, put in loaf pan and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes. It was wonderful! I didn't have white sugar and added some honey instead, that worked just fine. I avoid using white flour and will try this recipe next with my freshly ground wheat and add the baking soda and a little salt to make my own "self rising" flour. I have done this successfully with my friend's easy and good biscuit recipe made with self rising flour, mayonnaise and milk. Substituting the wheat for white flour keeps it from being quite as light and fluffy...but I just keep tweaking it.
Here is some beer bread batter in our favorite dinosaur bread pan (Target find) This pan makes little dinosaur shaped bread, muffin or brownies. Notice it is shaped like a big dinosaur foot print?

Here's how it looks baked up. The loaf sliced and toasted nicely too! What could be eaiser?!


Julee
still gluten free but whose kids are not

Monday, May 4, 2009

Adoptive Mom's Retreat

It was awesome!! I am blown away with the special surprise of a TOTALLY awesome time at the retreat. I sure wish I knew how to link the place we stayed there. I will enlist the help of teen son who is tech savvy to show me how to link the site to my posts here. It is called Mountain River Lodge and it was so very perfect there. More on that later. I was stressed and ill prepared for my talks but they went okay. The very nicest thing was just how wonderful it was to hang out all weekend with a group of Jesus loving, God fearing, and spirit following fellow adoptive moms. I found myself surrounded by a lovely group of women who were like me! It was so extremely fun and pure joy. I had no idea how much I needed it and how very wonderful it was to be around like-minded people. Maybe you all don't realize that many think Mike and I are crazy or weird or just too far out there....too be normal people. I was SOO ministered too by the women this weekend. Worship times were meaningful and the food was gourmet. It was so very beautiful there too. I took a few opportunities to walk alone along the river and into the forest. Oh my gosh. I can't wait till next year cus I plan on going NO MATTER WHAT. The retreat was put on by Adoption Ministry which is who facilitated our Jonathan's adoption. I also met a lot of moms who have adopted through Youth For Christ. These were mom's who have foster-adopted. What a blessing all these precious mothers are. I learned a lot and now find myself just filled up and recharged. Thank you Lord

Julee

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spokane and Snoqualmie Pass

Very early tomorrow morning Berhanu, Maggie, Yasab and I leave for Spokane. Berhanu has his oncology clinic appointments and a sedated CAT scan Wednesday afternoon. Thursday Maggie sees her neurosurgeon and has a CAT scan to check her VP shunt. We'd love to spend the night with our Dalaina and Rob and the grandkids...but we can't get Maggie and her wheelchair into their house. So we will be whooping it up with cable TV and room service at the Quality Inn. Yasab is coming as I need her to help me get the wheelchair in and out of the van. It's nice to have some "car drive" time once in awhile with a older child. Stuck in a car on a long drive makes an opportunity for some nice long conversations...I always learn the most interesting things about my kids on long drives.

We get home Thursday night and Friday morning I leave for Snoqualmie Pass for an adoptive mom's retreat. I knew I was going before I left for Ethiopia but haven't and a spare day to really prepare for the retreat. I am speaking Friday night, doing two small workshops on Saturday and speaking Sunday morning. I am looking forward to the weekend. What could be cooler than hanging with like minded Christian adoptive moms? I am praying that it is a refreshing and uplifting time for all of us there and that God guides my words and conversations over the weekend.

Our personal adoption saga continues. More failed court dates and postponements in Ethiopia. The details are just too depressing to go into now. I have no idea when our boys will be home. Maybe Gezehegn will be home sometime this summer and maybe Assefa will be home next fall. Sometimes I truly doubt they will ever be home. I don't understand. I don't understand why this is taking so long. I only know that God loves those boys more than we do. I don't have to understand the situation if I do understand the God who loves and works all things for His good.

Julee

March Birthdays

Since April has almost disappeared I guess I should post the March Birthday Pics. This year I was thankful to be here to celebrate these special days with Anna, Kayla, Michael and Josiah. The last two years I ave been out of town with Jonathan in hospitals for the March birthdays. March is a big month as each birthday person chooses a favorite breakfast and dinner PLUS has a movie night with treats and camping out in living room. Mike came home from work one night near Anna's birthday and told her, Miriam and Meseret to get in the car. They were blown away surprised when he pulled up to the movie theater to watch the Jonas Brother's Concert in 3D!! It was the high point of their entire lives to this point!

Miss Anna turned 9 on March 8th. Nine years ago this day we first felt the call to adopt....the same day Anna was born in China far far away.


Kayla (my right hand mommy2 and all around helper) turned 24 on March 12th



Man-child and lone bio boy at home Michael turned 18 March 19th



Happy Josiah who turned 8 on March 29th



Julee

How far behind is too far behind?

I am so behind in blogging. My vision of being able to keep current with this web site has died and been buried. Oh well. As a procrastinator with high expectations (a combo that creates a crazy stressed gal) I will deal with this as I do with all things I get behind in. Massive catch up... not done as well as if I had blogged as it was happening..but at least it will be done. The thing about us procrastinators is that we really shine when fire is lite under us. Then we have an excuse if our work isn't excellent cus after all...we had to rush through it.

So, current news first and that will be interspersed with travel stories from recent trip to Ethiopia and other family happenings.

Julee

The World is Lighter

So, I have been home from Ethiopia over a week and feel completely recovered. Friday we took off to Goldendale for the weekend. It was our last chance to go for awhile as Mike is starting the "outage*" very soon. It was gorgeous up in the mountains. The air was clear and a bit chilly. When the kids cheeks got too cold to stay outside on the zip line or hiking the paths with Daddy..we moved indoors to sit by the wood stove and read books or play games. We feasted on special camping type food and just relaxed mostly. I realized that it was the very nicest time I have ever had there. I think I figured out why that was. The first times we went to visit the cabin in Goldendale was with Jonathan. The first trips were really fun but there was always hanging over our head Jonathan's upcoming BMT (bone marrow transplant). We had to make sure Jonnie had enough blood or platelets to make it through our weekend. We had to be constantly checking his temperature in case he came down with line infection and we had to make an ER run. Mostly the stress I didn't realize at the time, was all about the life or death event of the BMT we were racing toward. Looking back I can see it was a huge weighty fear hovering over all my thoughts. Our trips to Goldendale after Jonathan died were really good for us as a family. But I was still such a train wreak the first months after he died that any and every place was hell to me. This past weekend I found myself relaxed and enjoying Mike and the kids and the beauty I found myself in. I was able to enjoy things in a way not possible when my heavy cloak of great sadness colored all things dark grey. Of course I still have lots of moments of giving into my grief. I most recently have been having the worst nightmares about Jonathan that wake me in agony and terror. Those bad dreams carry over to the whole day sometimes. BUT, in general, I can see how I am getting better. Wow. Realizing what a good time I had at Goldendale was SOOO encouraging. There is light at the end of this grief tunnel?!! Of course I "knew" it from past loss, but knowing it and "owning" it is different. The world just got a bit lighter.

Julee

**the "outage" is the every other year planned shut down of the nuclear power reactor where Mike works. It means lots of mandatory overtime hours and more $ too.
Enjoy the photos posted below from our weekend in Goldendale





Monday, April 20, 2009

back from Ethiopia

Oh my gosh....JET LAG. I got home a few days ago but everything is still a blur to me. I feel like I was kidnapped by aliens or at least run over by a mule train or something. I have so much to share when my head stops hurting and the world is not tilting at such a crazy angle. Tigist and I had such adventures in Ethiopia! Gezehegn and Assefa are ever so wonderful little boys. God showed His graciousness and His beautiful face around every corner. I am glad to be home...just waiting impatiently to be somewhat functional again. Will write more soon!!

check back here tomorrow....

Julee
dizzy yes, but happy to be with my U.S. kiddos and one and only Mike

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

So behind but still here...

...it has been busy but so fun around here. Last Saturday Mike and I had our big birthday bash at West Side Center. Many family and friends came to help us celebrate our 50th birthday. We need to do the whole family potluck thing more often. We don't need a birthday excuse. It is just so nice to be able to gather together and catch up. The cool thing about West Side Center is the gym. The kids could play there all day long as the adult visit their hearts out. Our grown son Jake and his wife Holly and kids Silas and Lauren came up from southern Oregon. They were able to stay and are going home today. Our eldest son Cody came from Seattle and also leaves today. I am never happier than when my chicks are under our roof again. Cody has been making gourmet feasts for us. It is enough to make us "foodies" to be able to experience his cooking! Mmmm. He also loves to teach so he imparts some culinary skills to the rest of us when he comes to visit.

I love watching my big boys Jake, Cody and Michael together. I love that they love each other so much and they are best friends. It helps me know that the family dynamics will go on strong after Mike and I are gone.

Of course my heart soars to have the grandbabies here. (I also got to see Dalaina and granddaughter Skylar on Saturday) I could go on and on about how adorable, smart and well behaved they all are...but I will save you from my gushing. Suffice it to say that spending these past few days with the grandkids felt like a bonus reward for the past 30 plus years of being a mommy.

On the adoption front PLEASE pray for our Ethiopian boy's next court dates on April 3rd and April 7th. It looks like there is a chance baby Assefa's case will be able to be split from Gezehegn's so the baby can come home sooner. The case for Gezehegn is still fouled up. Our agency AAI has an extra attorney working on it and we know they are all doing everything they can to make it happen. We get so disheartened and fearful our little guy will never come home?!? But I know from Merrily (our agency director) they AAI keeps working for the kids until the child comes home no matter how long that take. In all the many years they have been working in Ethiopia there has only been a few cases where the adoption didn't happen. That usually was a situation where birth family came and took their child back.

This adoption was way harder than my wildest imaginings. It is a good thing we didn't know how hard it would be this time or we would not have done it! I also know that once the boys are home (and I HAVE TO believe they will eventually be home!) that we will look back at how hard it was and we will know it was all TOTALLY worth it!

Here is Silas and his daddy Jake very stylish looking


Here is Holly with Lauren and Maggie


May this find you all basking in your Father's great love and may today bring you the peace and joy that only comes from Him
Julee

Friday, March 13, 2009

This is really hard...

.....this waiting for children to come home. We learned yesterday that the courts refused to hear Assefa's case early and we need to wait till April court dates. I have hit a all time low for me in adoption. At this point I am so discouraged I actually question if I would want to adopt again? (this is a first for me) I KNOW I have made it harder on myself by visiting the babies twice. I KNEW it would make it harder to wait for them after spending so much time with them. Mike and I just felt that even though it makes our wait more painful, the benefits outweighed our pain.

I KNOW I can trust God in this situation. I just feel weak, discouraged and broken hearted. It is a good place to be to come to God but it sure hurts now.

New photos of baby Assefa show him realy healthy and big! He is growing up without a family. He is HIV+ and needs to be home with medical care here! Gezehegn doesn't look as healthy as Assefa. Poor Gezehegn looks neglected and hungry. There are no words to say how sad it is for him to be there and He needs to be home!

I have kept the reciepts from all the "retail therapy" I have done the last nine months since starting this adoption. Today I am going to return all the baby boy clothes for they will all be too small for Assefa by the time he comes home. "If" he passes court April 3rd, travel won't be till mid May. He will be almost 11 months old then. I am done with retail therapy and won;t buy another thing until they pass court and we have an embassey date.

I have some more upbeat news to share and will be sending some Happy Birthday posts out as soon as I find my camera cord to upload photos.

thanks for listening
Julee

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bad Court News, Good God News

Sadly neither Assefa nor Gezehegn passed court again today. The issue is the still needed letter from Region 14. Gezehegn originally came from Kebebe Tseheye orphanage. There are others with kids from there delayed also. AAI is asking that our baby Assefa can be approved so he can come home sooner. The court has not wanted to split up unrelated kid's cases anymore but we are praying they allow Assefa through court. There is no end in sight for Gezehegn, I have no idea how long this could drag out for him. It is very sad.

For parents waiting for their children to come home... it is never soon enough is it? At least we know that "usually" it (adoption) all works out in the end.

For fellow adoptive parents who keep track of such things, here is our adoption time line:
~Jonathan died. I thought I should die too. 4/3/08
~Mike shared he believed we would be sending paperwork off to Ethiopia in next few months for a little girl, I didn't ever want another child except Jonathan 4/4/08
~I felt God say time was right; we decided to start new adoption(almost 9 mos ago)6/9/08
~unofficial referral for HIV+ little girl, waiting for HIV+ baby boy
~learned about a certain teen tiny baby boy 8/4/08
~Dossier to Ethiopia 8/20/08
~referral for Assefa then 1 mos and Edelawit 4 yrs 9/4/08
~On visit to Addis to visit Assefa and Edelawit we met and fell in love with Down Syndrome toddler Gezehegn at Gladney Children's Home 10/5/08
~lost referral for Edelawit. Devastated. 10/6/08
~found out Gladney would transfer Gezehegn to AAI's care. 10/7/08
~referral for Gezehegn 3 yrs 10/8/08
~1st court date 1/21/09
~2nd court date 3/5/09
~3rd court date 4/3/09 for Assefa, 4/7/09 for Gezehegn

Last year this week Jonathan was undergoing chemo and radiation to prepare for bone marrow transplant. April 3rd (Assefa's next court date) is the day Jonathan died last year. It is unbelievable how much lives can change is a year. Gezehegn is Down Syndrome as Jonathan was and they are the same age and were born a day apart from each other 3 1/2 years ago...one in U.S. and one in Ethiopia. One was cherished and loved from his first day of life until his last. One has waited a long time for a mommy and daddy to cherish and love him. I can only rest in the fact that their heavenly Father is "especially fond" of both of them. He loves them more than I can imagine. He created them "extra" special after all as both have that magical "extra" chromosome. I can not always under His ways; but I know His heart. He is LOVE.

I know that a year from now both our boys waiting in Ethiopia will be home. And for all of you reading who are waiting adoptive parents; I would venture to say a year from now your precious children will be home too. The "wait" is always painful and the end reward is always worth it. A few times in the past few weeks I have asked myself "why oh why do we put ourselves through this agony?!?"(adopting). I only have to look at the faces of my children looking back at me everyday. Beautiful, happy, healthy kids not born to us...but our beloved children in every way. Priceless. Worth every agonizing day of waiting for them. Worth every sacrifice made to bring them home and raise them. Worth surviving the difficult teens. Even worth walking through the valley of the shadow of death with them.

So Gezehegn and Assefa; we will never give up waiting for you. We want you home now, we'd still want you home years from now. We prefer sooner. We KNOW and TRUST in a Father who works good in all things. Even LOOOOONG waits.


Julee
Thinking a little retail therapy is in order. Maybe even a deliciously extravagant baby outfit to replace some of those Assefa has grown out of.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pray For Kayla and Court

Kayla left at 5:00 PM for her trip to Ethiopia to spend time at the orphanages with our baby boys. I was so on edge all day thinking she was leaving; that she was going to be holding our little ones in just a few days. She made it as far as Seattle. Her United flight from Seattle to D.C was canceled. No other seats or flights that United would book her on. There was no way she was going to make her Ethiopian Air connection in D.C. So she is flying right back home tonight. I leave here in a minute to pick her up at midnight. We will have to rebook tickets for later this week or next when there is Ethiopian Air flight available. She actually felt really sick today so maybe it is for the best. I was worried she was going to wind up with strep in Ethiopia or something.

Our second court date for the boys is Thursday March 5th. We will know in four days if they are coming home soon.... or if we will have another delay. I have been sick to my stomach this week with cold icy fear in my stomach about court. I imagine some small issue with paperwork or missing signature or something so minor to us but important to the powers that be in Ethiopia. Something that would keep the boys from clearing court and keep them longer in the orphanage and away from the love of a family. I know I am sinning in my worry. I am struggling with that. Please pray that they pass court on Thursday. And pray too for Mike and I to not to give into the sin of worry and fear. I know God doesn't want that for us. Pray for Kayla and new travel plans too. Thank you so much and thank you to those who post a comment. It means a lot!

Julee

Sick Kids

We're busy here at home with various illnesses. It started out a couple weeks ago with a child here or there getting a flu thing....headache, aches all over, cough and slight temp. Some kids got better fast and were done, others got better and then got sicker a few days later. Our friend Mr. Strep has again visited our home. Five kids are on antibiotics. In the past after a few tested positive the whole family was put on antibiotics. Our new pediatrician doesn’t want to do this. We'll see if he (and I) regret this decision. I was willing to try treating Mr. Strep without us all doing the meds. I think everyone was just more conservative in the past when Jonathan was still here. We had to keep the whole family as healthy as possible in order to protect him from any virus. The sickest now are Josiah and Tamar Myhao. Tamar's strep actually manifested as scarlet fever. Praise the Lord for antibiotics. Both seem a bit better after 48 hours on meds. It has been a week of little sleep with 5 of the little kids running temps and miserable. Mike took over a few hours yesterday morning while I slept. Because of illness we had to reschedule Maggie's appointments in Spokane on Friday with her neurosurgeon and CAT scan for her VP shunt check. At least we got another appointment day within a few weeks. I am really concerned that all the kids are not healthy enough to go to Seattle on Tuesday morning. Our plan it to take the seven youngest kids with us for Maggie and Solomon's clinic appointments at Children's Hospital on Tuesday and Wednesday. It takes months and months to get rescheduled and Maggie REALLY needs to see her people. Please pray that she and the others are healthy enough to travel. Maggie's been on antibiotics for 10 days now but she and Solomon still have a cough. I hate to take sick kids into Children's Hospital and expose other kids. We have a hotel room for Mike to stay with kids while I do the appointments if it turns out we can still go. I just pray that it works out for at least Maggie to see her doctors. We desperately need help addressing her feeding issues and to look at her med levels. Maggie has three appointments and Solomon has four.

*****Just added to post: I posted this early this morning before Maggie was up. She since got up with 102 temp and her cough is much worse. I imagine it will be an ER visit today and chest xray. Guess my prayers for what to do about Seattle were answered even before anyone read the above post. There is NO way that we can taken the kids for their appointments now.
*****updated at 4:00 PM. Maggie does have pneumonia but we are home from ER with super duper stronger antibiotics. Another week ahead hunkered down at home recovering.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

last Birthday catchup



Lindsay lives with her husband Sean in Denver. Coloado is a beautiful place but seems sooooo far away. I am just step mom to Lindsay but have loved her since Mike and I married 18 years ago. Mike and I miss her a lot. There will be some new brothers again very soon I hope. What a good reason to visit! Happy 30 something Lindsay!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lost Lambs , Happy Birthdays and Catchup part 4

This birthday sucked. Sorry if you think that a bad word, but I can think of no other better fitting. How ever can it be true?! I am STILL than same person who stared out from the mirror at myself in high school. oh well. At least I am doing something with my life that I LOVE and that I think matters. How much would it suck to be 50 stinking years old and to have been wasting that time on stupid stuff?!? I feel the days counting down already and don't want to waste a one on anything without eternal significance. I kinda wish I could LOOK younger while I was doing all this stuff for God's glory, but that is just my vain insecurity.



My February 11th birthday was pretty low key. Mike turns the big 5-0 on April 4th. We are having a big combined birthday party March 21st at West Side Center to celebrate our "fiftyness". You are all welcome. Lunch starts at noon. It's a potluck so you have to bring food.
Julee

Lost Lambs, Happy Birthdays and Catchup part 3

Happy Birthday Tamar Myhao!

Mike traveled two years ago to Vietnam to adopt Tamar Myhao. We had seen her photo a year earlier and fell in love with her sweet face. When she finally came home it was during the time that Jonathan was being diagnosed and I was away from home a lot in hospitals with him. Poor little Tamar didn't know for a long time who her mommy was. She sure does now! There is nothing like the love showered on a parent from their Down Syndrome child. Tamar is a tiny little drama queen who is always living out the movie in her head where she is the star. She has never met a stranger and she gives hugs for free. She expresses herself very eloquently though she says only a few words others can understand. She is more fun to be around than anyone I know. Tamar turned 7 years old January 30th. She attends a Life Skills (special ed) kindergarten and gets on the bus every school day with joy and kisses for the bus drivers.

This is Tamar and her new baby girl. Yes, this is bitty baby twin to Miriam's baby Jen. Tamar has named her baby girl but the name is from her own special language and we can't understand it. Tamar also got a play little kitchen for her birthday. She was and is still now weeks later thrilled with her gifts. Her baby goes everywhere with her and she loves to style baby's hair.

Lost Lambs, Happy Birthdays & Catchup:part 2

Happy Birthday Miriam!


Miriam turned 9 years old on January 14th. She was adopted from China when she was almost 4 years old. She was the world's easiest adoption and adjustment to a family. Miriam is a very smart girl who has a servant's heart. She is also quite the girly girl. She loves all things feminine. She asked for a baby boy doll for her birthday as all she has are baby girls....This is her brand new baby boy "Jen" doll. He is named for our family's most adored Asian man, the character on the T.V. show "Lost" named Jen. We are all about waiting for our real life human baby boys around here so it seemed natural for Miriam to become mommy to her own baby boy. (I buy doll clothes on Walmart infant clearance racks, the preemie size fits American Girl Bitty Babys perfectly)

Yes; Miriam is growing out her bangs.

I took a cue from another adoptive mom to many for a new birthday tradition. I wish I could figure out how to add a link to my blog post...then I would add Erin H.'s blog link to this post. Her family celebrates a child's special day by letting them choose birthday breakfast cereal, dinner menu, soda pop choice etc...whatever the birthday child desires. It was fun to start this tradition with Miriam but I had to take her to the store with me to chose cold cereal....our kids don't even know what is a good kind. We don't just don't usually buy it so we chose from the picture on cereal box and got Cocoa Pebbles. Miriam wanted fried rice for dinner and so that's what we made a HUGE batch of.

One thing about being a public school kid now....Miriam got to bring treats to her class for her birthday. She chose to take "hamburgers". They are made with vanilla wafers for the bun, peperment patties for burger, and colored frosting for ketchup and lettuce. You can add food color to coconut to make a more realistic lettuce, and cut fruit leather to look like slice of cheese , etc.....I didn't feel like working that hard.

Lost Lambs, Happy Birthdays and Big Catchup #1

So remember how in 2009 I was going to acknowledge all our family's birthdays? Well, better late than never. Here it is already about March and I haven't done a single birthday post. I am behind six birthdays and just in time for one that happens today.

January 5th was our granddaughter Maryn's 11th birthday. Maryn's mom our daughter Tasha turned 28 years old the next day January 6th. We have not seen Tasha since she was 15. We have never met Maryn. For her own reasons Tasha has chosen to divorce herself from our family. I think about her and Maryn everyday and am proud of all the good things I hear about them from others who are a part of their lives. One day about ten years ago when I thought I would surely die from worry and grief over "losing" Tasha, the Lord gave me a vision. I "saw" Tasha as a beautiful grown woman and she smiled at me and we fell into each other's arms with love and forgiveness. This vision was so real I could feel her embrace and smell her hair. This vision was of our reunion in heaven. I am sad to think I will never see her in this life but comforted by the hope to see her in heaven. What else can any parent do in this situation? Pray. Pray a lot and without ceasing. If need be pray for 50 years for my child even without hope of ever an "answer" to that prayer in my lifetime. Pray because I know how much God loves Tasha and Maryn. Pray because that is what God tells us to do and how He chooses to work. Happy Birthday Tasha, I love you and am grateful for the gift you are. Happy Birthday Maryn, I am your granny and I love you too. Someday I hope we can make up for lost time. You'd love meeting all your uncles and aunts!

Haimanot joined our family in fall of 2006. She was adopted from Ethiopia in 2004 and with her first adoptive family a few years before coming to us. Haimanot turned 18 on January 19th! She has waited a long time to be old enough to manage her own life and make her own rules. She was with our family less than two years before going to Job Core. I wish we'd had more time with her here at home. She has distanced herself from us since moving to Job Core last May. We think she will be back home someday. Stuff happens to young people and they find they still need a "nest", we will always be a ready landing place. We keep praying for Haimanot's health, safety and happiness. She is really a lovely young women with a lot of good qualities. May all your dreams come true Haime! We do love you Honey. Here is a pic of Haime and I from last year when she was still in the nest with mama bird me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

pray for Abby

Despite many good intentions of keeping the blog more up to date I let the days slide through my fingers without posting. Though I may not "talk" (blog) much I certainly do read a lot of other more prolific blog writers. I am an avid blog follower...I have my favorites; those blogs I read even if I can't afford the time. I read tons of blogs, many of them adoption related. The most fun are the travel stories of families meeting and bringing home their new children. What ever did we all do in the adoption world before Internet and blogging?! I also painfully follow some blogs of other's dealing with the loss of children or whose children are seriously ill.

One family whose story I live and breath is the Rigg's family blogs. This is a God loving, God fearing , God following, family with seven awesome kids three of whom happen to be adopted from Guatemala and Ethiopia. Their precious little girl Abby is right in the heat of a battle for her life fighting off the monster of leukemia. I have never figured how how to post links on my blog posts....but am going to try it to share the Rigg's blogs site. Mom Michelle and Daddy Brett both skillfully write to enable us to share in their family's journey and Abby's daily ife in the cancer trenches right now. Even if you don't choose to visit their blog and read about their wonderful family and Abby's battle; please remember to pray for Abby right now. She is in a very challenging and precarious part of her fight for life now. I think I can understand a little about what her mom and and dad are going through and her whole family. How many things are harder than watching your child suffer so brutely? I can think of nothing.

I added a button to my blog on upper right hand side ....it says "Praying for Abby". If you click on it you will link to the Rigg's family blog and be able to read more about them and see darling Abby!

Dear AWESOME Father and Lord of all creation....we Know you love Abby more than anyone else. We know that you know all the days of he life even before they came to be. YOU Lord are Who placed her in the Rigg's family and You are Who is and will be glorified in Abby's life. We ask You Lord to enable this most recent hairy and scary course of chemo-poison to be effective against the leukemia trying to take her life. We pray for healing for Abby and that You supernaturally lesson the side effects from the chemo. Guide the doctors as they work, check, and adjust meds to keep her pain level under control. Lord we thank you for her mom and dad and their willingness share this battle with all of us. We thank You for the light they shine for You in this hard time. We thank You that through them we can learn more of Your love and grace. Continue God to strengthen them and keep them close to Your heart. We beseech You Father to heal Abby and hold up their whole family through this time.
Amen

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Year Ago

A year ago Jonathan and I were living at Ronald McDonald House next door to Children's Hospital in Seattle. We were there doing all the appointments and medical test and procedures in preparation for the bone marrow transplant. Because Jonathan had to avoid people and viruses we were in isolation at Ronald McDonald House. That meant we spent many, many lovely hours alone in our room. Jonathan loved watching certain cartoons and his favorite was Wonder Pets. Here he is entranced and absorbed in watching a rescue mission by the super cute heroes..a Guinea pig, duckling, and turtle.




Wonder Pets over!...oh no...




No more cartoons...



Sign language....




Happily showing off his tonsils.




Wonder Pets forgotten and ready for more fun with Mommy.



I share Jonathan's funny faces from last year because I think his was the most wonderful of faces. He is gone now and it is sad that no one sees his face anymore. So..bear with me when I post photos, mention Jonathan, or fall at times into fits of grief. It is a tiny little way to keep him around.

Julee
getting ready to clean out the closet full of Jonathan's belongings. Thank goodness for Rubbermaid bins...you can put the lid on and stow it away to deal with another day.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

time for change

Okay. I feel done with being glum. When depressed I am quiet and being quiet makes me more depressed...stupid. I am done with being quiet. The sun peeked through a couple days this week and it was awesome. Didn't warm up all that much but still an improvement. There is just something about the sun shinning on your head that makes your step lighter and the world a better place.

It is hard that the boys didn't pass court last week. We were disappointed but not terribly surprised. Many court cases are not passing the first time nowadays. The Ethiopian adoption court is getting much pickier about a lot of stuff including the paperwork for court. This is good in the long run. Everyone wants a finely tuned and precise system for adoption in Ethiopia. It is the best for the children and the families. Now that all these wrinkles and new document requirements are being ironed out the time to get through court is taking longer and cases backing up. That is why when a case doesn't pass first time, it takes weeks to get rescheduled. For our agency it is about six weeks out, other agencies may be more or less according to their case load. This delay for us means the boys are at least another three months delayed in coming home. In our case it sounds like it was a minor paperwork issue and missing signature on one document. We we were told it shouldn't be an issue to resolve quickly. We just have to wait for next available court date March 5th. Some families I know have had four court dates. We are counting on passing next time!

There is lots of projects around here to work on to keep busy. The most fun "work" is doing things to get ready for two more little ones. I am also turning over a new blogging leaf....I am bound and determined to post more often and get more writing done. One goal I had this year was to send out a birthday post for every child this year. In my "quietness" on the blog I have already missed five birthdays this month! Oh my. So rather than give up already in January I am just going to catch up and keep up with my blogging goal. Be prepared for a string of birthday posts

Julee
getting ready to go out on date with my sweetie Mike, dinner AND a movie!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

bad news

Neither Assefa nor Gezehegn's case passed court today. Their cases were rescheduled for March 5th. So sad. More later

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Please Pray

My friend Lisa is in Ethiopia bringing home her daughter Eden. She is waiting for Eden's visa to be able to come home...please pray it comes tomorrow so they can be home soon. Lisa and her family live in our community. Her daughter Eden is best friend's with Edelawit. Edelawit is the little girl whose referral we lost due to paperwork issues in October.

I found out our waiting toddler Gezehegn is ill. Gezehegn is three years old but looks much younger because he is Down Syndrome. I am guessing he is about 18 lbs. He crawls but isn't walking yet. If we pass court tomorrow then Gezehegn will be Judah Gezehegn Feser and be coming home in a month or so. Please pray this precious boy doesn't become dehydrated and is able to keep his temperature down. My heart is breaking to know he is ill and I can't be there to take care of him. I am so thankful my friend Lisa (an RN)is there to try to keep an eye on him for me.

Thank you!

Julee

Monday, January 19, 2009

Still Among The Living

*Okay, I am taking the step to write a blog entry after several weeks of silence.* Sorry guys. I am embarrassed to admit that I have been in a "funk" which is nicer sounding than "I have been depressed". I have sympathy for others when they are depressed. When I am depressed I have no patience for myself and feel like a total mental case failure. So, there is my confession. I think there may be a tiny glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel and I am blogging about it to take a step in the right direction. I do know from reading all the books on grief I can get my hands on, that the 7-10 months mark after a death is a very hard time for people. Not sure why that is? It just seems like most of us dealing with a loved one's death really "crash" around that time. Mike and I still miss Jonathan constantly. For me I am a bit surprised my grief is still so raw now nine months after he died. The holidays were a trial getting through remembering Jonnie here with us last year. My whole life then revolved around him and fighting his illness. The bone marrow transplant was an ever looming target ...an event that could heal him or kill him. In my depression I feel like I lost myself when Jonathan died and I can't find "me" anymore or ever again. Then I feel so stupid and self centered thinking that. I know logically that there is no "me" to be found, just "Jesus" to be found. He is the only thing that gets me through and keeps me trying to get better, be better....for the kids and Mike. I do know that I never felt better than the two weeks I spent last month in Ethiopia. Loving on our baby boys and all the other children in the orphanages was as fulfilling as anything I have ever done. It was as close to "finding myself" as is possible. Of course I am sure that having to leave our boys there was pouring gasoline on the whole grief work. When I bawl out my longing for Jonathan there is a whole lot of tears thrown in for missing Gezehegn and Assefa.

**I wrote the above part of this post over a week ago. I have been floundering in my grief and Mike has been a rock for me. The first of the year with Mike's support I made some changes that I am hoping will help my depression. First off both Mike and I have made major changes in our diet. We want to be as healthy as possible and it'd be nice to lose a little weight too. I am doing a modified Daniel Fast which is pretty much a vegan diet heavy on veggies and fruit. The hardest part was giving up my beloved Diet Coke and coffee. I am determined to get outside and walk everyday no matter how freezing cold it is. I know exercise outdoors is a real key to my sanity and mental health. I finally bought the book recommended too me many times in the last two years...Beth Moore's "Get Out Of That Pit". It is JUST what I need! Last week I felt that I needed a "real" fasting and prayer time for the week before our Ethiopian court date. It has been a "good" time for me. Good for me because what I really need is to get back to my meaningful dates and quiet time with my Lord. It is just too easy in depression it is to fall out of good habits like prayer and quiet times. I needed and still need a hard kick in the pants to get jump started in a positive direction. Radically changing my diet and ridding my body of all chemicals, gluten and sugars has been one helpful "kick in the pants". Serious prayer and fasting has been another powerful jump start. It has forced me to bathe myself in His Word and allow it too soothe my wounds. I ache constantly for Jonathan, my bones hurt and my eyes are always teary with longing for a little boy I won't hold again till Heaven. My heart still races in a panic to remember all the pain Jonathan went through. God's ever loving presence and the balm of His precious Word doesn't automatically remove my aches and pains and grief. The truth of God's LOVE and GRACE in His words to me do help me remember MORE than the pain of Jonathan's death. They remind me that His mercies are new every morning. They remind me that "Yes", this crippling grief will get better and God won't leave me here in this pit of despair.


I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. --Psalm 40:1-3

Powerful words that I believe in and am choosing to count on as my own words of deliverance from a loving Father.

Thanks for visiting me in my walk in the "shadows" and the journey finding my way back out to the light.

Julee

Friday, January 16, 2009

More catching up and Maggie's new wheels!.

We have had a few changes the past month. Mike got a new-old job. He started this past week a "new" job with Energy Northwest(nuclear power plant). It is an "old" job as he worked for them before for many years. When Jonathan was gearing up for bone marrow transplant Mike accepted a job with Washington Group working on the Vit Plant (building a waste treatment facility). God answered many prayers for our family when Mike got the WA Group job. That job allowed Mike much more time with the kids when I was far away in Seattle with Jonathan. His brand new fellow employees at the Vit plant also donated enough personal vacation days to Mike that he was able to work part time and still get a full time paycheck for three months! That company was AWESOME to our family and we will always be grateful for his time there. I kinda knew my guy wouldn't be happy forever doing that kind of work though. He missed the challenges at Energy Northwest. We are happy Mike is back there and not at all ruffled that it is a $800 dollar a month pay cut for awhile.....Because of the temporary pay cut we have tightened up the budget. The only hard part was taking Solomon out of West Side Preschool. I really had been thinking Solly may have to stop preschool when the baby boys come home anyway. I knew loading up two babies to take Solomon back and forth to preschool would be a major pain. As far as the budget goes, it's not too bad. I know well how to live "poor". The only thing that really gets me now is not being able to practice "retail therapy". That is what I call shopping for the waiting baby boys. It is so hard to WAIT for them. Preparing and getting everything ready for their homecoming feels like I am doing SOMETHING to help them. Really the best thing I can do is pray more and keep learning to turn my worries for the babies over to the Lord. I want them home SOOO bad, so does Mike. Their court date is Wednesday the 21st...so we will know more in a few days about just when they might be home. My friend Sage whose daughter's court date was last week passed! Yahoo! Please pray Assefa and Gezehegn both pass court on Wednesday. As far as the "retail therapy" I am surviving. I know that God has never failed to meet our needs. That is miraculous! First off He always provides the money we need for the adoptions AND provides for all the children's practical needs. Right now I am saving for a good quality double stroller, and two more car seats. Gezehegn has enough clothes as he is about the same size Jonathan was. I am happy to be able to use Jonathan's cute clothes for Gezehegn. If it turns out that it makes us too sad to see Jonnie's stuff on another child, I will just get Gezehegn different clothes then. I really think we'll be okay with it. Assefa is size 6-9 mos now and I have VERY little for him. I am waiting till I know for sure when he will be home to buy anything for him. So...if anyone has hand-me-down boy's clothes size 6-12 months you know who to call.....we never turn down hand-me-downs!

Biggest Praise: Speaking of God always providing for our family's needs.....Thank you Lord for Maggie's new wheelchair!!! You may remember me whining and lamenting Maggie so BADLY needing new wheelchair. Well, two years and one month after we started the process for a new wheelchair....it was finally delivered! The wheelchair guy came and spent an hour or so adjusting it all to fit her. I cried to see her sitting in something that supports her body correctly and looks comfortable. The price tag was just under $7000. Praise You God also for medical insurance! You might also notice her braids....I did them myself! Usually the braiding is done by an older Ethio teen. My fingers don't work as well as theirs do with all that. I heard from another mom (Sage) about "yarn" extensions. I checked it out on You Tube and watched a few videos explaining how to uses yarn for hair extensions. It was easy! I used on Maggie some yarn we had laying around the house. It was black yarn with little flecks of colors throughout. She has had the yarn extensions in three weeks now and they still look perfect.

Here is Maggie in her new wheels....




Here is Daddy showing Maggie her new yarn hairdo in bathroom mirror. Maggie's hair doesn't grow on the back of head and never has. Her head is always against the ground, headrest, etc...so she is rather bald in back. Having pretty hair to style on front of head means a lot!











Julee