Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Family of 7 - Smile!

Ok so here's my confession...a photo session with a family of seven is challenging!  Getting everyone dressed and ready (and staying that way) was a challenge all in itself!  And then we headed out in the heat and humidity and it got even more interesting...
This pic pretty much sums it up :)

Thankfully we had an amazing photographer, our family pastor's wife, Kelli (http://www.kellijoy.com).  She caught some beautiful moments and we're so thankful!  We're quite a bunch, but I wouldn't trade this bunch for anything! Smile!




Monday, May 6, 2013

Our Journey continued...

I've been trying to decide how to finish the story of our journey to DRC to bring our kiddos home.  Trying to decide what words to say and how much to share (at least in a public way) - it's not an easy decision.
After going back and forth over the course of the past few weeks, here's what I've decided to share...
The 2 weeks we spent in DRC were the most difficult 2 weeks of our lives. However, it was a necessary part of the process and looking back now I see how God used those 2 weeks to bond Jeff and I together as a pretty awesome team - even more awesome than we were before! :) 
I will share one tid-bit - our trip home seems sort of comical and almost surreal now, but at the time it was 27 hrs and 4 flights of sheer chaos.  Our little ones slept for about 6-7 hrs total and the rest of the time, they cried, screamed and pretty much disrupted the peace of every traveler we shared space with! Jeff and I decided, when we touched down in Charlotte, that we didn't care to ever board another plane again! :)
We arrived home on Friday, March 8.  Thankfully, my mom and dad decided to stay on with us for an additional couple of weeks.  Jeff and I were both incredibly sick and having extra hands around the house was such a blessing!  

After my parents had been home for a few weeks, my mom sent me an email that I will forever treasure.  I'll share a bit of it...
Those first couple of weeks sure were a true test of all your parenting skills and stretched you almost beyond measure.  We could only stand amazed at the extra portion of love and patience God gave you both.  As you worked together to guide and train them to learn to trust and obey you, they settled into their place in the family and began to feel at home.  We could see them respond to that very love you desperately desired them to know.  
I thank the Lord that you gave us the opportunity to experience this great event in your lives.  We saw first hand the working of God in your family, in our family, and we are so proud.  It thrills our heart to see how it has all worked together to bring glory to His name.

We've been home now for almost 2 months and here's what I know to be true:
Finding a "new normal" is hard work!
We have an amazing family - our older girls have handled this transition incredibly well!
We're making progress with A and J each and every day!
Watching their little hearts open and seeing them learn what it means to receive and give real love is pretty miraculous!

I read this on another adoptive mom's facebook wall and I think it sums up where we're at so perfectly:
"I have concluded that I do not want an easy, pain-free life.  Rather I want to stand before God sweaty, tired and broke because I invested my life and resources in the Kingdom of God and for the benefit of others."

They just don't come much cuter than this!

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Journey We'll Never Forget!

We finally got the call telling us it was time to pack up and head to the DRC. We booked our tickets for Thursday, Feb 21st - flying out of Charlotte at 7:30am.  My mom and dad came into town the week before to stay with our girls while Jeff and I were gone.  The Wednesday night before we left was pretty sleepless.  I kept reminding myself that God had already gone before us - there was nothing that would happen that would take Him by surprise - I didn't realize at the time how truly important it would be for me to remember that!
Jeff and I got to the airport at 5:00am and boarded the shuttle that would take us from the parking lot to the terminal.  The gal driving the bus asked where we were headed.  We told her our story and she asked if we had pictures of the kids.  Jeff showed her the picture of Jayce with his huge smile and she said, "well he sure has his momma's smile, doesn't he."  It made my morning!
Our flight from Charlotte to Washington DC was short and sweet!  At 10:30am we boarded the plane that would take us to Addis, Ethiopia.  It was about a 12 hr flight, but with the time difference, we landed in Addis on Friday at 7:15am.  After about a 45 minute layover in Addis, we boarded a plane headed to Kinshasa.  We landed in Kinshasa at 1pm.  Getting through the Kinshasa airport wasn't bad, but we did have to wait about an hour to get our 1 checked bag - and it was SO hot!  Our Guest House driver was waiting for us and we began the 45 min drive to where we'd be staying. The drive to the Guest House is one I will never forget.  First of all, Jeff and I were both sooo hot (and quite a mess from a day and a half of traveling, I might add).  The road we traveled was lined with colorful beach-type umbrellas with people selling and buying everything you can imagine.  Mixed in to the chaos were trash, old broken down vehicles, masses of people - some carrying baskets on their heads filled with bananas, apples and bread.   The road was a flurry of activity - honking horns, vans jammed packed full of people - some hanging out the windows - people walking, riding bikes, 3 people to a motorcycle.  There were no real lanes to the road - just 2 sides - they just fit as many vehicles as they could across.  Our driver was a pro!  He carried on a very enthusiastic conversation while somehow maneuvering successfully through the traffic.  We finally turned off from this main road on to a dirt, pot-hole filled road that took us to our Guest House.  We honked at the Guest House entrance and the big gates opened.

Here are the views from our Guest House balcony.
Here are the 2 rooms that we spent 2 weeks in with 2 kiddos - can you say FUN?!  Not.

Yes, there was only 1 bed for 4 of us - so you guessed it - Jeff slept on the leopard couch. :)

Upon our arrival we met Rachel (a fellow CCI momma) - it was such a treat to see a friendly face!  Rachel was incredibly helpful getting us settled in!  Shortly after we arrived, Dito (our in-country representative/social worker) came to greet us.  We hadn't planned on meeting the kids until the next day, but Dito said "you're here, we'll bring your kids!"  So we quickly showered and got ready for our first meeting with Jayce and Alli!  I had tried hard not to imagine what this first meeting would be like and I'm glad I hadn't built it up in my head.  Honestly, it happened so fast, I hardly remember what we said or did.  Dito brought Miriam (our kids foster mom for the past 5 months) and the kids to the Guest House.  I do remember thinking that Miriam must have prepared them well because they came running into our room with hugs for mama and papa.  We talked for a bit with Miriam about schedules, medication the kids were on, what they like to eat, etc, etc.  She graciously answered all our questions (with Dito translating) and then she and Dito headed out.

The kids with Miriam.  You'll notice Alli's extensions.  Miriam had put them in, but Alli wasn't feeling it.  We spent the next day cutting each braid, unbraiding and then twisting the extensions off her hair - yikes!  It was a lot of work!
I'm writing this on borrowed time and naptime appears to be over...so, I'll have to continue later.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

First Things First...Community is a Beautiful Thing!

We finally made it home after spending 2 weeks in the DRC.  I have much to share about our journey, but first things first.  I am quite behind on all the happenings that led up to our departure on Feb 21st.
We are so thankful for the friends that surround us!  Living 800+ miles from all of our family, friends become a life-line.  A couple weeks before Jeff and I left for the DRC a group of sweet friends planned an incredible surprise for me!  
A picture is worth a thousand words, so here are pictures of a very special evening!




The night ended with all these sweet women forming a circle around my girls and I, laying hands on us and praying for each part of our journey and for each member of our family.  It was a picture of true community and so beautiful!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Gotcha Day - Friday, February 22, 2013

Gotcha Day was Friday, February 22!  I have so much to share, but it will have to wait.  We are still in DRC and incredibly busy with our little ones!  Once we get home I promise to share pictures!  Until then, Happy Gotcha Day to Jayce and Alli!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

And we're off...

Tomorrow morning we board a plane and head to DRC - to our little ones. This is the day we have planned for, prayed for and dreamt about.  It's finally here!
The range of emotions is hard to put into words, but my momma-heart is overflowing!
Jeff is concentrating on getting us safely through the airports and to our Guest House in Kinshasa, but my mind seems to skip over all that and lands on Saturday.
Saturday morning we'll meet our kiddos face-to-face for the first time.  We've tried not to build up any expectations of what this meeting will be like, but my prayer is that God has been preparing and speaking into their little hearts. That in that moment (and in thousands of moments to come) they will know they are safe, protected, chosen and loved.

Tomorrow we're off...we'll update as much as we can! :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Embassy Appointment Update

The January 30th Embassy Appt went off without a hitch - praise God!  We're now just waiting to hear from the Embassy that the kid's visas have been approved.  We're getting super close to heading to DRC to bring our little loves home!
We'll let you know when we've got some travel news! :)