Monday, July 25, 2011

a few pics from Ethiopia

until we can show you our kids faces, these are a few of our favorites...



































Day 1 in Ethiopia

Today is Sunday, and we're on the very long flight home from Africa... 16 hours to be exact, and that just lands us in DC, with another leg to Detroit, then an hour drive home. In all, it's a 30 hour jaunt from this sweet newly beloved land of Ethiopia, to our home in Ohio.

I'm going to try and recap our week, both for those of you that are interested in all that we experienced this week, but also for our own memory. I don't ever want to forget what I experienced... the emotions that I felt... the things that I saw.
















Day 1 in Ethiopia was last Sunday. We arrived in Addis at 10:30am, after a VERY long flight. It was extra long, due to the fact that although it was supposed to be a direct flight from Dulles to Addis, there was a passenger that was experiencing swelling in her leg, and the flight staff was concerned that it could be a blood clot! So... our pilot turned the plane around, yes! around, and went back to Rome to drop her off. I am thankful that she was okay, but sooo extremely over being in this flying sardine can!

It took us probably an hour and a half to get through customs, get our baggage, exchange our dollars for birr, and get through security. Thankfully all of our bags made it, and security didn't tear through our luggage, even though we had lots of donations that tend to make extra problems... as they are wanting to be sure that we aren't there to sell our goods.

We met up with some amazing other AWAA families, whose stories we've been following throughout this whole process and headed to lunch with our AWAA group. 


a dear friend, Debb Marquez

The Hatmakers and us

another dear friend, Anna Dreyfus















































Now realize that we had been awake for like 30 hours... sleeping on the plane is totally overrated! and we literally had 5 minutes to drop off our stuff and head to lunch, then on to meet our kids!! We were soo overwhelmed with excitement that we threw our bags in our room and took off! Thankfully I did have a chance on the plane to freshen up a bit... wouldn't want to look like a haggard mess when I met my kids for the first time!

Our agency's sign outside the gate

the gate of the Transition Home































Our agency is soo amazing that they set up everything from where we would be eating, to making sure that we had a driver available to get us there, as well as 3 different travel coordinators that acted as our translators, tour guides... and our entertainment. We were so honored to become friends with Yonas, T, and Eyob... as well as one kick butt driver... Dawit!

Yonas and Eyob


Me, Eyob and our friend Aliya Snyder















 










Dawitt and Jeff
































Our meetcha day was, well... pretty amazing!


























Our kids had been told by the on staff psychologist that we would be coming this day, so they were as well prepared as you could be at ages 4 and 2. I don't think that I can describe the emotions rolling through both Jeff and I as they walked out that first day, but I'll give it a shot... excitement, thrill, fear, joy, hope, sheer terror, peace, and the list goes on...

The language barrier was probably the toughest thing, especially for B****** as he's old enough to talk and relate, but a bit too young to understand WHY we aren't making any sense. For example, B***** has been in an orphanage his whole life (almost 4 years), minus the 8 months that his nanny took him home with her to raise him... but I'm getting ahead of myself... so for almost 4 years, he's been without a family. He's been without a mommy who will kiss away his boo boos. Without a daddy to wrestle with. Without a mommy to sing him lullabies at night. Without a family to laugh with, pray with, rejoice with. He had no one who he could call his own. And for the last 5 months, he's been in a transition home ( a really good one, mind you) where other kids have had care packages delivered to them from their new parents, pictures of their new family, new home. Notes of love and encouragement that they were coming soon, new clothes, and treats. Something to make them feel special. B***** was never called to the front of the line for such treatment. No one sent him a care package. No new pics of family that was coming soon. No packages so lovingly put together by a new mommy. No new pjs, or cool tshirts... no match box cars or fruit snacks. There was no one taking his picture to send back to America to a new family.

... that is, until we were matched with him and his new sis to be, M*****! In June they received their first care package just for them!! New pjs. and fruit snacks, underwear, and tshirts, pics of OUR family, that would now become THEIR family. It brings me to tears to think about how exciting it must've been for B***** especially (due to his age), to receive some of that "center of attention" treatment for the first time in his life. 

So, fast forward to our MEETCHA day on Sunday. He'd been told that his mommy and daddy were finally coming! I can't imagine the excitement and probably fear that he had coursing through his body. We received hugs and smiles all around when they were brought out. One thing that is truly amazing is that B***** has TOTALLY taken on the roll of big brother to M******. Many of you know that they are not biologically related, however, once  they are legally ours they will truly be brother and sister. B**** is so very protective of his baby sister... looking out for her... sharing with her etc. It is amazing.

The emotions going through both of our kids must've been overwhelming, to say the least. Here come 2 strange looking people, that although I've seen pics of them, they smell different, their skin color is clearly different, they don't speak the same language... these are just a few of the many thoughts that must've been racing through especially B*****'s little head.

I will say that the language barrier was probably the MOST difficult piece to all of this. For example, we would get out a new toy, such as side walk chalk, and he'd be THRILLED. We'd want to help him open it, as it is almost impossible for a 4 year old to break through the indestructible plastic packaging. But instead of it looking like we were trying to help, since he doesn't understand, "oh, let me help you with that... mommy will help", it looked to him like we're grabbing it back out of his hand, after just giving it to him and speaking in a language that he is TOTALLY not able to understand. It must've been soo confusing. 

Days 1, 2, and 3 were pretty much a jumble of highs... B***** laughing and smiling, to lows B***** crying and frustrated because he didn't understand all that was happening. In the meantime, M***** whom we concerned about, because we only saw a few photos of her even smiling, was bonding very well with both of us. Snuggling, laughing, smiling, soo happy to be in her mommy's arms etc.

After many tears, both from B******, as well as Jeff and I... and LOTS of prayers going up, Jeff and I were able to learn several key words in Amharic that TOTALLY changed things for the better. Such as "good job", "wait", "come", "no", "I love you", "Okay". It made a WORLD of difference! And yes, I totally believe that the prayers going up from our friends and family back in America definitely helped! 

So, I'll end this post with those encouraging words and will share "the turning point" as well as B***** and M*****'s birthday celebration in the next post.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

the time is now!

Phase one is complete. Our bags are checked and we're sitting at our gate waiting to board the first leg of this journey. We went to sleep last night at 11:15. Thankfully LBobber didn't wake up at his usual time and come into our room to sleep with us at 1 am. Nor did he wake up at 2:45 when we left. Praise the Lord. That was a huge answered prayer. I knew that it would be soo much harder to leave if our sweet boy was awake and crying for me. God knows what I can handle. My amazing mom came over to stay the rest of the night, while my awesome dad drove us to the airport at 3am. Living 2 doors down from my parents definitely has it's benefits.

We were the first to check in with United... in fact, we arrived before the staff had even started their day. Can you say eager? haha. We knew that one of our four checked bags was going to be overweight, but we were hoping that they would let it slide. Actually all 4 of our bags were overweight, but only by a pound each... except for the 4th bag. They wouldn't even let the 1 pound overage go through, so we had to shift things around, and unfortunately, the 4th bag was 25 lbs. overweight. yikes. We had to shell out $200, but it was worth it... we don't want to leave any of these precious donations behind.

I have no idea how I'm awake right now... must be adrenaline. I've not been sleeping well for the last several weeks... and of course, right now I'm living on only less than 3 hours. It's funny how your body just shifts and adjusts to different stresses in your life, whether they are good or bad. This is definitely a "good" stress.

We'll arrive in DC at 7:30am, right about the time that most of you will just be waking for the day;) Then we'll board at noon and fly directly to Addis Ababa...the capital city of our sweet B**** and M****'s birth country. To describe the emotions running through my heart and brain right now is hard. We are soo eager and excited to see our kids birth country... to experience it. We've fallen in love with it's people, before we've even landed. And of course, we can't wait to hold our children, to kiss their sweet cheeks,  to cuddle them,  to read to them, to sing to them, to listen to their sweet voices. 

We'll be in the air for 13 hours! Please be praying that we are able to get some sleep. And that we arrive without incident. EEEEEeeekkkkk! We will meet our children TOMORROW! Stay tuned as we'll be posting as often as we can with spotty wifi.

We would be remiss if we didn't take this opportunity to say thank you to soo many of you who have helped us get to this point in our journey. Thank you for catching this vision. Thank you for listening to us share our hearts. Thanks for praying over us, with us and for us. Thank you for laughing with us, crying with us, and celebrating. Thank you for supporting us both financially and emotionally. This is not about us. This is what God is calling us to do. We're just along for the ride. This is freakin' exciting! Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Monday, July 11, 2011

countdown

In a few short days, we will board a plane, travel 20 hours (with layover) to Ethiopia where we will meet our sweet kiddos, B***** and M***** face to face for the very first time! There are soo many emotions that have been rolling around, not only in my mind, but lately on my sleeve. While we are THRILLED to meet our kiddos and have been anticipating this trip for over a year, my heart is heavy with sadness at leaving our other 4 children at home while we take this next step in this journey that the Lord has us on. We will only be gone for 9 short days, but I've never been gone more than 4 or 5, and that was 7 years ago! It will probably be hardest leaving LBobber, as he is only 2 and although he understands a lot, he may not be able to comprehend the time frame of 9 days. I pretty much broke down the other night SOBBING like the world was ending. I seriously was a mess. Thankfully, I have an amazing husband who hugged me, encouraged me and prayed over me. The Lord's peace did come... which is really quite amazing, and I was able to finally get some rest. I woke up crying and basically cried on and off all morning. My kids were so sweet... hugging me and telling me that it would be okay. sigh.

I continue to be amazed at the emotions that have played out throughout this adoption journey. They are sooo very much like being pregnant. I haven't been able to sleep well at all these last few weeks, very much like it was for me right before I delivered each of my 4 precious kiddos.




















Yesterday was a much better day, once I was able to get a hold of my emotions. There has been a lot of extra snuggle time going on in the Seevers home...























I have been nesting like crazy... having Jeff paint all of our furniture, painting the kids bathroom, the boys room, and cleaning drawers, closets etc. like a crazy woman.



























We've also been packing, weighing, and repacking like mad! Thanks to all of you that have brought over donations for us to take with us. Everything from diapers, wipes, flip flops, formula, granola bars, diaper ointment, baby vitamins, fruit snacks, sidewalk chalk, suckers and more! THANK YOU!! The people that will be receiving these gifts will be forever grateful! We are allowed to check two 50lb bags each, along with 1 carry on each and a back pack. Trust me when I say that they are all packed to the hilt!


















We feel pretty well prepared, as far as the physical stuff goes... we've had our vaccines, our bags are packed, our paperwork is prepared, grocery shopping for the kids and last minute stuff around here will be done this week.

We have also "upped" our spiritual warfare for our family. Being sure to put on the full armor of God daily, to fight off the enemy's attacks. We are asking though that YOU, our friends and family, would also be praying for us... we would love to have many people praying for us over these last few days before we leave, for safety in travel, our kids safety, for peace and health throughout our trip, for our first meeting with B***** and M*****... that they will be able to bond easily with us, for our court date (July 21st) - that we'd find favor with the judge and the MOWYCA officials that have the authority to give us a favorable letter of approval... we are EAGER to hear the words from the judge's mouth, " they are yours" for grace, and hope! I'm sure that there are a hundred other things that you could be praying for us, so pray as the Spirit leads you.

We are soo very thankful to our family and friends... and honestly, even strangers that have stepped up and supported us throughout this process. This was never about us. This has always been about these kids... their need for a home. a loving home. a place where they can grow and thrive. a place where they can learn about the love of their Heavenly Father. where they can learn about His saving grace. a place that they can call family.

Thank you for seeing this vision that the Lord has placed on our hearts. Thank you, to many of you who have stepped up and helped to make it happen. THIS is what the body of Christ is really all about.

We'll continue to update our blog as we follow our hearts to Africa and my hope is that next week, once we've passed court, I'll be able to post pics of the newest Seevers' kids.

Thanks again for your words of encouragement, and for your prayers!