Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Adoption Community

We fly out in less than a week!! One week from Friday, we meet Samson!

I would not have made it this far without God, support of family and close friends and much prayer. I am thankful for all who understand and who have supported us along the way. And since I've began this journey, I have been thankful for another group of people I would not have known otherwise - the adoption community.

Adoption is a new territory for our family and many of our close friends. When we began the process, we found ourselves gravitating towards adoptive families in the community we barely knew. Recently I met a woman just briefly who had adopted sibling girls from Ethiopia. When I saw her several days later in Target, just after our referral, I SPRINTED down the aisle to catch her, YELLING her name. My girls were terribly embarrassed!!! But I felt an instant connection and bond with this mother of two AA girls. I was excited to tell her our referral news because I knew she would understand the excitement and emotions I was feeling.

And it's not just adoptive parents who understand, it's also extended family of adoptive parents. I love seeing the eyes of a grandparent light up and give me that look like they "get it" when I tell them our adoption news.

Most of my support from people who understand the emotional ups and downs of adoption have come from the members of our agencies on-line forum. Thank you Lyn-Dee for encouraging me through the wait of our referral. You seemed to know when I was most discouraged and checked in when I needed encouragement the most.

There are several others who have sent me notes along the way - too many to mentioned. But I would also like to thank Katie, Ann, Kathy, Donna, Jennifer and others who I connected with over the forum early on in our wait. Also, thanks to Chris and Erin, who we started the process with (attended PAC class together) and are waiting for their referral of a sibling set. Thank you for your encouragement and following our journey - can't wait to watch your's develop!

There is a special connection in the adoption community that has helped give me much peace and comfort along the way.

Bonnie, for one has been a life boat for me. She brought home her toddler girl a few months ago and is waiting for a court date for a sibling set. When her and her husband traveled to bring home their sweet daughter, they also brought their family. She has shared much wisdom to help me best prepare our girls for travel.

The forum and the blogging world have become my passion - a way to connect and be part of a greater community of people experiencing the journey along side me.
After receiving our social report with 19 more pictures of Samson, I connected with even more forum members who received their social reports at the same time. Tanya is adopting an adorable set of sibling boys. Late one night, Tanya and I discovered through our social reports that our sons are friends! Her youngest son is pictured in several of our social report pictures as well as our son in theirs. Sharing these pictures back and forth was priceless. A picture of Samson without being the focus, gave us a different perspective of what he is up to - nothing bad just more candid.
Erin and her husband returned a couple weeks ago with their handsome son. I asked Erin if she would please give little Samson a hug from his mommy and daddy. This is the comment she left on my blog:
"I wanted to let you know I specifically sought out your little one last week in the toddler room. Yonas' social worker led the way. He is such a little love - seriously. He came right to me and gave me a sweet hug and I said, "This is from your daddy and mommy!" And he smiled, and looked at me with those giant, beautiful eyes. What a sweetie pie. You guys are certainly blessed..."
This just made me melt ....thank you Erin for making this connection. And thank you for all the valuable advice you have given me since you returned.

And now, I'm just starting to get to know another set of adoptive families - those who will be completing their journey with me.
These are the families we will be sharing our first times together with our children. We will be flying there and back with Paula and Peter and their 5 year old son; Kate and Jeff will be there adopting their first child; Kim and her husband will join us to bring home their baby as well; and just today, one more family was added to our group - Julie and Steven! Julie and Steve are adopting their first children as well - an adorable sibling set of a girl and a boy.

Michael and Heather, Anita, Deborah and Charles and Sarah - I have not met you on-line but look forward to sharing this journey with all of you!! Can't wait to meet everyone!!
Now...back to packing....

Friday, July 17, 2009

Praises!!!! We have a travel date!!!

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.'
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth -"
Isaiah 43:5 - 6
Over the past couple days I tried to be strong, I tried to keep a steady faith, I tried to remain hopeful but as time went on, I was growing weak, I was growing less hopeful and my faith was wavering.
I do trust that God will bring this journey to completion in His own perfect way. I prayed continuously for His will and His timing and at the end I was praying for the desires of my heart. God granted me those desires.
Yesterday we received the news that Samson was going to the clinic to have his TB test checked TODAY! I started to have doubt. How can the results be tested and forwarded to our agency all in one day. What are the possibilities? At the same time I was thinking about the airline tickets we had on hold and would have to let go if we didn't hear.
But we serve a God who is in control; a God who is faithful to His Word. We may grow anxious during the wait but His timing is perfect.
Even if we hadn't heard of Samson's TB testing today and had to forfeit our tickets, everything would still turn out OK. He IS our son and he WILL be joining our family.
I'm just thrilled to think that we will meet him 3 weeks from TODAY!! Now the only wait left is waiting to travel.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oh..What a week!!

and it's only Wednesday??!!?

Last Friday we were given the tentative travel date of August 13th. Over the weekend, Steve and I checked airline prices. Returning on a Thursday, they went from $1700 on Friday to $3000 on Saturday and $6000 by Monday morning!! This is the price for this particular week! Multiply $6000 by 6 - not in our budget!!

There are no seats available on another airline and still another going a different route was priced at $3000.

Monday, I left a message for my specialist. Tuesday heard back from her that they were still waiting to hear the results of Samson's TB test but they were working on sending a group on August 5th, one of their off weeks and was not originally scheduled with the embassy. However, we would not hear more until the end of the week.

August 5th appears to be our only hope to travel in August. We sit and wait. We checked with one travel agency for prices for leaving August 5th but they would not hold seats for us on KLM.

This morning I received a message from a friend on the forum (thanks Paula) who got a travel agent to hold seats for 72 hours for August 5th.

I contacted the same agency, left a message. Got a little impatient after waiting 15 minutes, called the agent again. Got him this time. Yes - he would hold seats for us for 72 hours. He confirmed that finding a flight to Ethiopia mid August through the end of August would be extremely challenging and that our only hope to travel in August would be the August 5th date.

He checks the August 5th flight while I'm on the phone. He pauses (remember, we need 5 seats) and says there are two seats available. I said, "oh no! We need 5 seats. He says, "wait, I found three others, which makes 5" He hangs up to plug in all the information just to make sure he gets those LAST 5 seats. 5 minutes later he calls back to confirm that he got them and that we are very lucky!! Not only that but they are still very reasonable.

I got off the phone and began to pray that our agency would be able to send a group on August 5th.
Just a few minutes ago, I received an email that our agency got the clearance to send August 5th group!

However, we are still waiting for TB test results on our son!! So, we our agency still cannot confirm our August 5th travel date. Please pray that the results will come before Friday so we can keep our seats.

Three weeks from today we are tentatively scheduled to fly out to Ethiopia!! Three weeks from this Friday we could meet our son for the first time!!

It has been a stressful and emotional week! Am I not suppose to be spending my energy towards getting ready for this little one instead of stressing over travel arrangements!!! These have been anxious times indeed!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The story of our son's name

Since we received the referral of our son, we have been going back and forth between names. We knew we wanted to keep part of his birth name. But which part and for his first name, middle name or both.

Back in March, two months before our referral, I wrote a blog entry that I never published regarding a conversation we had about naming our son:

This past weekend, we took the girls out of town for a few days to the Dells. The car ride out there and back gave us a chance to talk about our future brother and son. Each stage of our vacation, we envisioned him with our family in the van, sleeping in the hotel room, at the water park. Who would he sleep with? Where would he sit in the van? Would he like the water park or be afraid?

Then on our way home, we had the most amazing conversation ever since this journey began. We stopped at a Starbucks on our way out of town and as we were leaving Starbucks, it just hit me that we had not talked about a name for our son. So, the discussion began.

Each of us had our own opinions. One name after another was spoken and usually shot down. I could tell this was going to be a long drawn out process before we could all agree.

Then, Steve threw out a name, like he pulled it out of a hat. It was like time had stopped. Nobody booed it. It was dead silence for a few seconds. Then all at once, we were all over this name with excitement. It just seemed to fit.

The name Steve came up with (I have not received permission to share this name yet) is a person in the Bible. Non of us knew much about this man's story, so I fetched my Bible and read his story out loud to our family. This man happens to have been born to a woman who was sterile. An angel visited the mother of this man and told her that even though she was sterile, God would give her a son.

Steve, being the careful decision maker he is, said "well, that's a good option but I still want to wait to hear his birth name." So that is why I'm not sharing his name because we are "leaving our options open."

Fast forward to last Friday and this name came up in a trivia question on a local Christain radio station. Over the weekend, after much discussion and weighing out our options, we made the decision to name him the name that we spoke about on our trip.

His name will be...


Kelaye is part of his birth name. I love the name Samson, but we are also open to calling him "SAM" for short.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Birth Certificate!!

We received word from our agency yesterday (July 3) that we passed yet another milestone in our adoption process. The Ethiopian government issued Yihun's Birth Certificate with Steve and I listed as his parents. The only step remaining before we travel is his medical Visa through the US Embassy.

We don't have a tentative travel date yet but our agency sends families every other week and the next two travel date option are July 29th and August 12th. Another family we have met on our agency's forum, adopting a 5 year old boy, just received a tentative travel date of July 29th. They are very close to us in the process, so we are holding out hope for the July date but we'll have to wait and see.