Monday, December 31, 2012

we had a white christmas

somehow the universe aligned correctly to give us folks here in texas a white christmas! what a rare was so beautiful (until we had to drive home in it :).

more on christmas coming soon, but for today...

Happy New Year 2013!!!!

alternately titled -

Happy Year We Bring Evangeline Home!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

christmas joy

 we have had a lot going on! you know the, wrapping, teacher gifts, class parties, christmas programs, baking, traditions, plus all the normal things you have to do. and if you get a meningitis shot for your trip to ethiopia, it MIGHT make you feel like you have the flu for 2 days after. NOT FUN. but our sweet baby girl is worth it. this season has been full of so much JOY for us this year! we have so many reasons to celebrate!

 judah had his little christmas program last week. it was adorable. later i remembered that it was his last preschool christmas program because next year he'll be in kindergarten. sniff. he also had pajama day and a little party on another day.

 yesterday, elijah had a christmas party and program. it was a western christmas play and it was really cute. he did a great job! i never can get good pictures of the actual production...we are always so far back it's impossible, but here's the best i could get.


hmmm, judah did NOT want to be in a picture. elijah was holding him down. 
man, he's been a stinker lately. :)

we also took some family pictures. i took some of my friend's family and the boys, and then she turned around and took a family photo for us for our christmas card. it worked out well! the boys are getting so big! judah is 4 1/2 and elijah is 8 1/2. did i mention before that after we got evie's referral, we now have all 3 of our children's birthdays within a 3 week time frame?!?! whew. that will be a busy, busy time of year for us.

We hope your family has a wonderful Christmas spending time with family, watching the joy on your children's faces and celebrating the birth of our Savior. For He is the true reason for Christmas and that is what I want to make sure my children remember for years to come. We are looking ahead to 2013 when we will BRING EVANGELINE HOME!!!
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

i want to tell you her name

we are still floating on clouds around here.

the only thing better than getting a referral at christmas time is...nothing.

i can't think of one thing better.

this christmas had the potential to be very wonderful or very depressing, and i am thankful to God that we can say how WONDERFUL this christmas is! this may be the most wonderful christmas ever. however, ask me that next year when we have her home and i'll probably tell you that's the best christmas ever. :)

the busy-ness of the season makes it fly by and before we know it, it will be january and we'll hopefully be finding out our court date that month!!!

this week we are knee deep in preschool programs, pajama day, christmas parties, field trips, teacher gifts, last week of preschool for the year and cold weather. i plan to blog about all of this later.

right now i want to tell you our girl's name.

if you know jason and i well, you know that we don't tell names before the birth of our babies. with both boys, we had 3 names picked and did not name them until we saw them. THEN we shared their names with the world.

we also throw out any names that do not have a great meaning. we don't pick names just because we like the way they sound (although that's important too), but we pick names that also have deep significant meaning as well. i liked plenty of names and then found out what they meant and threw them out the window. i'm not saying that if you don't do this then you don't care about your child's name, that's just what is important to us. elijah means "the Lord is my God" and judah means "i will praise the Lord". our prayer for elijah is that he will have no gods above the one true God and for judah our prayer is that he will praise the one and only God as long as he lives. i love that we can tell the boys what their names mean and our prayer for them based on their name's meaning.

so...on to baby sister. we've had 3 years to think about this name so you would think it was an easy decision when we got the referral. WRONG. in thinking about the boys' names, i was trying to meet the same criteria...hebrew bible name with a strong meaning and a family middle name. i didn't want her to feel left out if her name was completely different. but things ARE different this time because we also wanted her to keep her ethiopian name to hold on to her roots.

i. was. torn. we had it down to 3 names (just like the boys). a family name, a hebrew bible name and a name that God had laid on our hearts. what to do, what to do. jason ultimately picked elijah's name, elijah picked judah's name and so it was up to me to make the final decision on this name. jason was totally fine with all 3 names. i was feeling the took me almost 2 days to make a decision, but i did. and so...


i already have it on her stocking as you can see. :) i want to tell you about this name and what it means to us. we totally abandoned the hebrew bible name and family name to go with this one. i just kept coming back to it over and over.

a couple of years ago when going through a baby name book, jason came to like this name. honestly, i was not on board with it at first. i thought it was too long and just a little too unusual. elijah had also read a book about a girl named Evangeline and he latched onto it as well. i still couldn't commit to putting it on "the list".

not long after this, jason had a couple of dreams about a little ethiopian girl named Evangeline. when he told me this, i liked the name a little bit more. then God laid a song on jason's heart so he wrote it down and sang it to had the name Evangeline in it. okay, now i'm really starting to like this name. it can go on "the list". :)

Evangeline means "BRINGER OF GOOD NEWS". when we got the referral and saw her sweet little face, all i could think was what GOOD NEWS it was to finally know who our daughter is! then i started praying that she would be a bringer of THE good news to the world, maybe even to her home country of ethiopia one day. i can't wait to tell her what her name means to us one day...i hope that it makes her feel special.

i wish i could also share her ethiopian name with you and i will once we pass court. it will be her middle name and when i found out what it meant and with what Evangeline means...oh my word. it is just beautiful. based on her two names together, i know what scripture i want to be on the wall of her room.

she's our Evangeline...Evie (ee-vee) as we'll call her.
our little bringer of good news.

this is the name God has chosen for her.

Princess Evie, we can't wait to have you home!
(we are closer to that because today we were submitted to court!!!!) 

 Pictures the DuFran family took for us while they were there in December.
7 months old...

Friday, December 07, 2012

our referral story {THE CALL part 2}

The phone started ringing, our hearts were pounding, our hands were shaking. This was it. We both knew what a HUGE moment this was in our lives. One of the biggest. How often does the anticipation build for 3 YEARS to know who your child is and what they look like? It was a moment we both knew we would never forget.

You tell yourself any number of things during the wait. Things like "She might not be very cute at first, and that's okay". You know, you don't want to build it up in your head too much and then be disappointed, so we were prepared for whatever. Lindsay said she was sending us 3 separate emails one at a time and the first one had some pictures of her for us to see. We refreshed my email several times and then FINALLY there it was. We were shaking with excitement. And then, there she was...

This is THE MOMENT we saw her face for the first time, captured on our computer's camera (and oh my, it was cap day at my preschool that day...of course :). I thought I might cry when I first saw her but all I felt was pure JOY. She was STUNNING. We were in awe. She was beautiful and tiny and perfect and she was OURS. We loved her instantly. Sweet baby girl was everything we had imagined and more. God is so good. We don't deserve her, plain and simple. I have had so many people tell me what great people we are and how lucky she is to have us. And while she may be, let me tell you right now: We are the lucky ones. She is a far greater blessing to us than we will ever be to her. All of a sudden in that moment, IT WAS WORTH IT. Everything we had been through: the pain, the heartache, the excruciatingly long wait, the paperwork, the tears and the desperation...SHE WAS WORTH IT. It all came together in a perfectly orchestrated story when we saw her sweet face.

A year ago, when we were expecting a referral any day, she wasn't even born yet. All of the times we cried out to God, Why?!?!, He was soothing us and telling us to WAIT. She's not ready yet, she's not here yet. Wait. I'm going to knock your socks off. Wait. She's going to be amazing. Wait. She is just for you. Wait. I am knitting her together. Wait. I love you. Wait. My plan is better. Just WAIT. 

We studied every picture (all seven of them!) in detail. Those pictures are like oxygen to us. We soaked it all in.  Her eyes, her lips, her hair, her little hands and feet, her adorable belly, and we got a glimpse of how God feels about us. We come to Him orphaned and helpless with NOTHING to offer and He loves us anyway. Completely and fully, He loves us. Thank you God, and thank you for showing us this in that moment. We are no longer orphans, and neither is she.

Lindsay then began to tell us every single bit of history they have on her: her health history, the circumstances surrounding her birth, her sleep schedule, her eating schedule, her personality, what she likes and doesn't like, how she laughs and how she plays. Every little piece of information is so precious in a situation like this. We loved hearing all about her and I can't wait until I'm the one who knows her more completely than anyone else.

I can't tell you any details, but I can tell you that she had no one. Now she has us, and more importantly, we have her. She is 7 months old TODAY too - Happy 7 months sweet angel!

After we had been on the phone for about 45 minutes and told Lindsay that YES, we wanted to proceed with her adoption, we began calling and texting all of our friends and family! Jason called his parents and they decided they were going to drive down to see pictures and take us out to eat. I skyped my mom at camp to see her reaction when I sent her the pictures. My phone began to blow up with congratulations and texts of people crying and jumping up and down and praising God with us! It was quite possibly the biggest celebration of my life so far. Let me just say right now that we could not have made it through this without our family and friends supporting us and praying for us and listening to us whine and complain and encouraging us. It has taken a village and we are very aware that she is not just our baby...she means so much to so many people.

Satan, you fought hard but YOU LOSE. We are now a family of FIVE! Blessed be the name of the LORD!

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God." Psalm 40:1-3

"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

Our first family of five photo :) (It was cap day...remember? :)
And the boys are THRILLED by the way. They were a little shocked at first but now could not be more excited about their sister!

Jason and I with our baby girl - we have a daughter!!!

 Nana and Grangoat's first reaction

Holding pictures of their first grand-daughter

When Lori brought Judah back home we showed her pictures, and Jason's brother's family drove over to see pictures and go out to eat with us as well.

And then, our sweet sweet small group. These people were in the trenches with us. Supporting us and praying for us and loving us even when we weren't very loveable. They threw us a celebratory party, complete with It's a Girl signs and pink balloons. Jason cracked open a bottle of wine he'd been saving for over 3 years for this very occasion.
We love you guys. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now we begin the next phase of waiting. This one will not even be a fraction of how long we waited before, thank goodness. We are waiting for a court date, which is typically assigned 4-6 weeks after referral and about 2-3 weeks out, so maybe in January? Then we'll have to go back about 4-6 weeks later after all of her paperwork is ready to come into the USA and BRING HER HOME. I have a feeling the wait between trips will be the hardest. So we might have her home in March or April, just in time for her 1st birthday. Amazing.

So that's our referral story. Still can't believe it happened. What a Merry Merry Christmas indeed. Perfect timing. We have a daughter! Eeeeek!

A post on her name is hopefully coming soon...

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

our referral story {THE CALL part 1}

*Warning: this is long!* I have been thinking on this post for days and I'm having trouble putting what I'm feeling into words. All of this is just so surreal and amazing.

For a few weeks leading up to Thursday we were just really, really low. I can't even describe to you the depth of despair that we were feeling. I had told Jason a few days before that I felt like the Israelites wandering around in the desert for 40 years. Dry and thirsty and tired, wondering what in the world God's big plan was. Crying out to Him - Oh God, will you ever deliver us?

When we started this adoption process, we obviously had no idea that it would take this long. Things were moving along very quickly. Even quicker than a lot of domestic adoptions. We just knew in our hearts that this was God's plan for us. We wanted to abandon this plan many, many times but could not bring ourselves to do it.

A little over a month ago we felt like God was calling us to surrender. Surrender our plans and our ideas and let Him have full control. So we did. We moved our age range as high as we could without added expense, to 23 months. We revisited our child medical form and changed some things. We were at complete peace about it all and fully expected a 1 to 2 year old since the paperwork on each child is taking so long right now. But God completely blew us away after we let Him have it all. He knew the desires of our hearts.

Last Thursday started out like any other day. I work at a preschool two days a week, one of them being Thursdays. Judah goes with me and it's a great little mommy job - I love it! School is from 9-2 and at 1:44pm my phone vibrated in my back pocket while I was at the indoor playground with my class.

Oh yes, it said "Possibly THE CALL" on my phone. :-) And you can see on the call time that it took a little over a minute for my whole life to change. My heart started an irregular rhythm and then I immediately told myself "She's probably calling about the email we sent yesterday." When you've been on the wait list for 2 1/2 years you NEVER think it's THE CALL. And let's just say that Jason and I had sent poor Lindsay a VERY whiny email the day before about how bummed we were. I looked at my co-teacher and said "I have to take this" and walked a little ways away.

Me (taking a deep breath): Hello?
Lindsay: Hey Summer, it's Lindsay. How are you?
Me: I'm okay, how are you?
L: Great! I got your email yesterday.
Me: (Deflated. Thinking, I knew it was just about that). Yeah, sorry about that. We are just really having a hard time right now.
L: I know you are. I think I have some news that's going to make it all better!!!
Me: YOU'RE KIDDING ME. Oh my goodness, I can't believe this. I feel like I'm going to pass out!
L: (Laughing) I have your referral right here on my desk, can you believe it?
Me: No, I really can't. I can barely breathe, I think I'm going to pass out.
L: (Laughing and consoling me that it's okay and is really happening) I'm assuming you're not with Jason, do you want me to conference him in or do you want to get with him at home and call me back?
Me: No, I'm at work. Um, I'm going to go home and then we'll call you back. (Starting to cry). I just need to know how old she is before I call Jason.
L: She's 6 MONTHS OLD and her name is *****
Me: YOU'RE KIDDING! (apparently I thought this was all some big joke on me :-) Oh my goodness, I can't believe she's so young! 6 months old?!?! (At this point I slid down the wall onto the floor and started crying).
L: She's beautiful Summer, she's beautiful. We've all been oooing and ahhing over her pictures!
Me: Oh my goodness, oh my goodness. I'm going to call Jason and then we'll call you back soon.
L: Okay, I'll wait to hear from you. Happy Referral Day!
Me: Thank you so much! Bye.

At this point my co-teacher was checking on me to make sure no one had died. :-) Once I told her what was going on she gave me a big hug and told me to GO! I remember telling her "I'm tapped out, my mind is gone. I can't help you with the kids right now." LOL.

I stood up, went down a hall and called Jason who was off work last week - perfect timing.
J: Hey. Is everything okay? (because I'm calling early from school)
J: What? Are you serious? Oh my goodness!!!
Me: (Crying) She's 6 months old Jason, 6 MONTHS OLD!!! Can you believe it??!?!? She said she was beautiful!
J: (Laughing/crying) When can you get home? Can you leave right now? How quickly can you get home? (I think he said this about 10 times :-)
Me: Yes, I'm leaving right now. I just need to find someone who can take Judah home and tell Lori that I'm leaving and then I'll call you on the way home. Can you believe this?!?!? Oh my goodness. I'm in shock.
J: I know, I know. Okay, call me on your way home. Bye!
Me: Okay, bye.

And then I thought, what am I going to do with Judah? I didn't want to cause a scene because our families didn't even know at this point. I don't want the whole school knowing. I tried to walk as calmly as I could down the hall and found Lori (my close friend and boss) in an office. I calmly told her I needed to talk to her in the other room. I told her "We have a baby!". She hugged me and assured me that she would take Judah with her and then bring him to our house later. My friend Katie happened into the room right next to us. I called her in and just looked at her, didn't say a word, and she screamed and then cried while hugging me. I told them not to tell anyone, then grabbed my stuff, left Judah's car seat by Lori's car and left.

Before I left Jason had texted me that he was jumping in the shower in case I tried to call. By the time I called him in the car on the way home I was shaking and praying I didn't have a wreck. He was out of the shower - he said he was yelling "Thank you God!" over and over in the shower. We decided that we needed to find someone to pick up Elijah from school because we would probably still be talking to our caseworker at that point. I called my next door neighbor and friend - she didn't answer. Jason went next door and banged on her door until she did. :-) She said she would get Elijah. I remember telling Jason all the way home "I can't remember her name. She told me and I can't remember our baby's name!" and "oh my goodness, I cannot believe she's only 6 months old!"

When I pulled in the driveway, I ran inside. Jason was beaming and jumping up and down. We hugged and jumped up and down together! I ran next door to tell my neighbor not to tell Elijah what was going on and called his school to let them know my neighbor would be picking him up. Jason set up the camera on the computer, I grabbed my phone, we sat down together in front of the computer and called Lindsay.

The stage was set. God in His wisdom had known this moment in time long before we even began this adoption process 3 years ago. It was here. November 29, 2012. We were about to see our baby girl for the first time...