Friday, December 23, 2011

Peace on Earth (and in my heart)

So we continue to wait on our I-600 approval. There is nothing more we can do at this time to further our adoption and now I have to find peace in the situation. Christmas is here, it's time to celebrate Christ. God is stretching me, molding me, comforting me and revealing Himself in the most amazing ways. I reflect on all the miracles of our journey and I can only say that He is good.

Today, as the time neared that we knew no more e-mails would be sent, Eric and I let out a huge sigh. We can stop the "let's check our inbox one more time" madness. Not because we don't love our children or want them home desperately. But because that behavior is all consuming and not honoring this journey. We have a few days to be thankful and continue to trust the path we are on.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 60

The I-600 application that Eric filed in Ghana, is said to take 30-60 days to process. Today it has been 60 days since it was filed. Without any communication from the Emb@ssy, I can only conclude they are still processing it. Or not. Who knows.

I walk around with a knot in my stomach despite the joy that comes from the Christmas season. I have a lump in my throat that I keep from turning into tears by focusing on work, holiday preparations, staying off the computer (which I am NOT good at) and prayer. There is nothing in the adoption training courses that prepares for these emotions. You just have to live through it to know it. And now we know.

My sweet little ones, I know you will have a family (again) soon, but right now that day seems like a distant dream. To have something this monumental so out of our control feels cruel and impossible. God's timing is perfect and according to His plan. I can't wait to get on African soil again and tell you that we are a family:)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ghana in our home

The painting Eric and I chose on our first trip and the beautiful masks he brought home from trip #2.
I have many reminders of Ghana scattered around my home. Some are little reminders, such as tiny little dresses that are waiting for Agyeiwaa in her closet. Or the red dirt that I just can't wash off my flip flops because it is from the streets my children walk every day. It feels like a small connection to them as I wait to see them again. Others are items purchased while in Ghana that we have finally began to display in various spots. At times, it is just the quiet anticipation of four little feet that will soon run around this home. Either way, Ghana is near our hearts.
Cross made of recycled glass and coffee bean ornament made by an adoptive momma.

Carved nativity that is displayed on our coffee table. Jake rearranges this daily and tells me what each person or animal is doing or thinking.

The Baby Jesus from the carved nativity. Something about this rendition cracks me up:)

My favorite painting. Vibrant colors just make me happy.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jesse Tree: our advent journey

This year, we are doing a Jesse Tree to observe the advent and prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus. In the past, we decided to celebrate advent Sundays, which has been a wonderful tradition that I grew up with (one of the only religious memories of my childhood). Each day, we read a passage and hang an ornament on our tree. Each day, the devotional takes us closer to the birth of our Savior and connects the dots in the Old Testament. We learn about the people that are the most unlikely candidates to become the lineage to Jesus. God uses the outcast, the rejected and the "least of these" to accomplish His mission. We find tremendous comfort in this.

There are many books, kits and ways to do the Jesse Tree journey. We chose the FREE option, since we are on "adoption budget" right now. I simply printed the symbols for each day, glued them onto construction paper and found a simple way to hang them onto our tree. Some people use a separate tree to hang the symbols, but I actually like the fact that the Jesse tree is a part of our family tree. The symbols are scattered around the ornaments from our family trips and even my Santa ornaments. Yes, we are crazy like that ;)

We chose our devotionals to be appropriate for kids, but also have enough substance for us grown ups. Today we read about God's provisions and it spoke to me deeply. Great conversations spin off our devotionals. And more than anything, it is a time to quiet down, pray together and focus on the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When God grants Peace

Lately, I have felt so different than any other time during my adoption journey. I have felt peace in my heart that God has this all figured out. Really, He has. I don't have to be anxious, worried, angry, jealous or mad. I have been all those things many times in the past year. I don't have to make deals with Him about bringing my children here, I don't have to worry how He will provide. I don't have to pray "please God, let tomorrow be the day that....happens", because His timing is perfect. I don't want to make something happen myself, because His timing will hold bigger blessings. I just need to wait for Him to show me when to go, and how it will be provided for. There are doors that are opening that will hopefully be the right ones to provide for the last leg of our journey. Just last night and unexpected phone call holds so much promise. He has been faithful, why would He stop now?

I would be lying if I said I didn't miss my children. I would be lying if I said it's ok they are not here for Christmas (or any other day between now and when they get here). I miss them, I miss Ghana, I miss so many things. But these two feelings can coexist in me at this moment. Peace covers all of it. His Peace.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ghana Trip #2 Memories

The Ocean

Eric was trying to find things to do with our children and the playground was closed that morning. His driver Patrick suggested going to the beach for a little bit. Our children grew up in a small village several hours north of Accra, so they had never seen the ocean. Our first trip didn't allow for a beach trip with them, so Eric thought this was a good idea.

Ready to see the beach

Walking up to the beach, Kofi was very excited, but I am sure he didn't know what to expect. Agyeiwaa was just along for the ride, she is such a sweet girl and a good traveler. They walked in between two buildings to see the ocean, and but the time they saw it, it was very close.

All of a sudden Kofi froze, he didn't want to get any closer. Patrick told Eric "he is afraid" and Eric offered to hold his hand. Slowly, they made their way to see the massive water. Eric asked Patric to explain that " on the other side of the water, was America". The look of amazement on his face was priceless. Thank you honey was videotaping this is such a sweet moment.

"So just on the other side of that water is America?"

And airplane flew over, which for our children stops anything, and they always point to the sky and chant "aeroplane, aeroplane"
 And my husband's sens of humor: he saw this guy walking on the beach and asked to take his picture. At home he told me: "no matter where you go, you always find someone from Ohio"

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Adoption, sponsorship and a special girl

There is a girl that I think about often. She is wise beyond her years, has a smile that lights up the room and like so many children in Ghana, she has suffered loss in her life. Eric and I met her in May when she jumped out of the car when we first met our children. She was along for the ride as a helper when our children made the 3+ hour journey to meet us. We were asked if she could stay with us for a little while and we had no problem with this. She was extremely helpful in those first moments when we were getting to know our children and learning a common language.

For a brief moment, Eric was absolutely convinced that she was the reason we were approved to adopt 3 children in our home study. My husband, who I thought was more "rational" out of two of us asked me to pray about being her "forever family". He wanted this treasure to have a chance at education as she is smart and can become anything she sets her mind to. We could tell she was loving and enjoyed spending time with us, but I never had total peace about inquiring more about her. Somehow, we would find a way to be a part of her life, but it didn't have to include adoption.

She asked if I had any clothes her size when she saw Kofi and Agyeiwaa receive new clothes. I opened the donation bins we had brought, and there were many dresses Emmi had packed that no longer fit her. They were all her size!! She picked out a cream colored dress and white shoes. She must have hugged us a million times. when I found a purse for her, we were officially "Mommy and Daddy".

As it turns out, international adoption is not in this girl's future. She can stay with biological family and receive an education through sponsorship. She has a sponsor that is giving her a chance at education and a future(someone else stepped in before we could get it arranged, which is wonderful). I pray that she will find stability in her current situation and love in her family unit. Through her journey, she is teaching us about the complexities of international adoption, family preservation and many people coming together to be her family. This girl has so many people that love her, pray for her and want her to have a bright future. Including our family.

We have sent her care packages and letters since May. We pray for her and we are committed to love her from a distance. Eric didn't have a chance to see her in October, but our POA and Eric discussed her current situation. We sent another care package with our POA to her. Emmi picked out a dress for her during one of our shopping trips and included a blue headband with a flower on it. We knew she would love it.

Then one day I came home and found my husband with the biggest grin on his face. He said for me to open my email. Our POA send us a picture of her and a letter that made me cry like a baby. Thank you God!!! She looks healthy and so beautiful! I hope her world is a little brighter because of our family.

 The letter says:

Hello Eric and Jenni,
I am very proud of you and miss you.
I know you are missing me too but I assure you that I will never forget you.
I once again thank you for everything you have done for me.
If God willing one day we shall meet again, good bye
And if you ask Eric, he is still hopeful that she might have an opportunity to come to the US as an exchange student or a college student. Our door is ALWAYS open for this young lady:)

Friday, December 2, 2011

6 months of waiting

Today, it has been 6 months since I last saw my children and told them I would return soon. While I am so glad Eric visited them in October, my heart aches. 6 months is an eternity to be separated from the ones we love.

Ghana Trip #2 More memories


Eric and I set a skype date with the kids each morning. I got up at 6am so that they could start exploring the city as early as possible. Containing two energetic kids in a hotel room by himself was tough, I'm sure... Anyway, my favorite skype memory was when Kofi and Agyeiwaa skyped with Emmi and Jake for the first time.
Waiting in hotel room

To set the scene...Kofi has seen plenty of pictures of his new siblings and he knows them by name. As soon as the video came on, he saw both kids waving at him. My precious son's face lit up and he began to say "my family, my family" over and over again. It then hit me that yes, we are a family. For the first time all 4 of my children were connected and able to talk to each other. Of course it made tears stream down my face....Yes boy, this IS your family!!!!

He then began to ask to come to America. If I had the powers, I would have reached right through the computer and brought him to America.

Some of the sweet things I heard from Agyeiwaa (age 3) were: "good morning Mommy", "I love you Mommy", "my phone"( which cracks me up, because she didn't repeat the words, she actually knows what this means) and hearing her sing songs in the background. All this is of course said with the most adorable Ghanaian accent.

Just typing this up makes me miss them soooo much.....