Monday, December 28, 2009

Mykah Turns 4!!!!




We were invited to celebrate Christmas with another family who lives locally. He is a GREAT cook and it was nice to have a delicious dinner and let the kids from the same orphanage be together in their new setting. She works for the Peace Corps and he works for the American Embassy. They are adopting a darling 2 year old girl and it was good to just relax together and take a break from all the stress of the adoption.



I asked if it would be okay if we had a cake for Mykah's birthday and they graciously agreed to do so. So here she is in all her splendor!! I brought a Cabbage Patch kid with me from home and she LOVED having her own baby doll. She wanted it tied to her back in typical African fashion and let's just say, I would never trust a real child to my skills :) It was a simple party! Cake and balloons. But she was in Heaven!!!!



Tomorrow we are hosting a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party at the orphanage. Melanie's mom and some friends pitched in and she was able to buy an outfit for each of the children. I think it will be a lot of fun. I guess it will be a good way to start off week 6! I can't believe I have been gone this long and I can't wait to hug all my little ones.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas for ALL our Children!!






Apart from not being together as an entire family, it was a wonderful Christmas.



The kids had a great time and enjoyed playing together, as well as trying all the different foods that were coming their way. We tried to keep up some traditions and we went out to lunch on Christmas Eve at a Chinese Restaurant. Then on Christmas morning we had egg casserole, and home made cinnamon rolls thanks to Melanie.
They each opened their gift and wer
e thrilled as expected. That afternoon we had lunch with another family and the kids stuck to the foods that they knew. Beets, turkey and the rolls. We enjoyed all the other fixins'.




It was good to slow down and not get caught up in the rush of it all. Oh how I missed being with everyone, but back home Chris said they had a good day and enjoyed all their gifts and time with Grandma, Kayleigh and Daddy.





We found out that the Deputy Prime Minister signed off on our paperwork!! Please pray that we go to court this week so we can begin the immigration process. We are still praying that we will be able to leave on our January 14th flight. Please continue to pray that the family we are here with experiences a miracle and are able to leave then as well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A HOME for the Holidays





What a fun time to be adopting. Seeing everything through the eyes of a chid is incredible, but seeing everything through the eyes of a child who has never experienced anything quite like this is a different world. Christmas here is mostly about family and a big dinner celebration. I bought Jackson three hot wheel cars and a My little pony for Mykah. They are going to be THRILLED. But I know what will touch them the most is when I put those Christmas pj's on them tonight, they will have the security of knowing that they belong and that they are special.



I wanted to challenge those that read this to think of what they could do to reach out to "Widows and orphans in their distress." Many people say, "What you are doing is so wonderful." In all honesty, it doesn't feel wonderful, it just feels right. There are 130 million orphans in the world. It is also estimated that 500,000 of those are available within our own U.S. foster system. Imagine if everyone did something small, what a large impact that could be made?



Working in behavioral health, I have seen the needs in our foster system. The greatest need is for loving homes for these kids, and might I say, not just for the babies. It always hits me when a child packs up to go home or to the next placement, they pack everything in black garbage bags. It's a sight that just never sits well with me. I can't imagine having everything that I care about in a black garbage bag. Not quite your Vera Bradley luggage. When I left the orphanage with Mykah and Jackson, they didn't even have a black bag. They had the ill fitting, donated, used, smelly clothes that were on their backs. Nothing to give. Only a sense of vulnerability.

I do realize that we will all have different roles in caring for the orphans of the world, but what will your role be?

  • Give financially to organizations like Lifesong- www.lifesong.org so others can receive grants to help fund their adoptions?
  • Offer free babysitting to families that have adopted so parents can have a night out?
  • Bring meals to families that have adopted to assist during their transition home?
  • Sponsor a local group home, maybe even sometime other than Christmas? Bring them games, movies passes, something to encourage the under-paid staff?
  • Become a foster parent or even an emergency foster parent to help short term?
  • Print a picture from www.uskids.org and pray for a forever home for a child?
  • Check out organizations like America World www.awaa.org and see about adoption for yourself, or even sponsor a child for their summer exchange program?
  • Organize a short term trip through www.visitingorphans.org and help others to see the need at various orphanages around the world?
The list goes on.....



When Chris and I first talked about adoption over 7 years ago, we knew that it was something that we would do. It was never a Plan B if I couldn't get pregnant, or something we would look into. It was never a matter of "if" but "when." When we started this journey in January 2009, I never thought that less than 12 months later I would be writing a blog entry from Africa waiting to come home with my two children. To those that say, I would love to, but how can we afford it? We can relate!! We are still asking ourselves that. BUT, I will say that God has been faithful. He has used His church to have people step up and support us- practically, financially and emotionally. We are not alone. Also, if you adopt out of the US foster system, the cost is very minimal.


So my dear friends, make it your New Year's resolution to see what your role will be? Who knows maybe a year from now, you will be the one writing a blog about YOUR adoption journey!!!!


Do Something Now from Children's HopeChest on Vimeo.



Sunday, December 20, 2009

GOTCHA Day!!! :)

Well, it's official!! I am now the mother of 5 children! Some days I think, "I can handle this." Then others I ask myself, "What in the world was I thinking!?" It was SO good to bring them home. I gave them a bath, put new clothes on them, gave them new shoes and then it was bedtime. It was so fun putting them in jammies and Mykah actually fell asleep on me around 6pm.

After I put her jammies on, I was showing her the girls' room where she would be sleeping. The room has a twin and a queen bed. Jacee, Melanie's sweet 4 year old girl that is sharing a room with her, wanted Mykah to sleep in the queen bed with her. Mykah wanted nothing to do with that! She wanted her very own bed. All the kids (Melanie's and ours) have been so excited about the prospect of their own beds because at the orphanage there are 4 kids per twin! No problem letting her have her own bed, huh!? :)

She also went back into my room and put her new shoes on...she wanted to sleep in them. They squek when you walk, so I quickly removed them and she was not so happy with me. :) She kept holding them to her ear wondering why they were no longer making noise! :)

Jackson played for a while after all the other kids went to bed. he is a typical 3 year old that called out for mommy after I had laid him down and when I checked in on him he was laying there on his back playing with his toes.

I wonder what is going through their minds...I wonder what they will remember about this entire process...I wonder what they will dream about tonight...

Some have been asking what's next. We still need to go to court and we are hoping that happens this week before Christmas as this is where the adoption becomes legal/final. Then we need to obtain passports which takes a few days and we are thinking that this will be next week before new year's. The final step is working with the US Embassy (who have been awesome!) for immigration and our final medical clearance which we are thinking will happen the first week of January.

Please continue to pray that all this happens smoothly and we are able to get home quickly even in spite of the upcoming holidays. All in all it is great to have them home and to tuck them in at night!! Our hearts have ACHED just pleading for this!! Even though there is quite a bit ahead we are at peace and cherishing the moments tonight and thankful that they will be in our "home" with their mommy for Christmas and both their birthdays!!

Praise God!!

Custody!!



After a month of sitting by the phone and waiting for it to ring, we decided it was time for an adventure. Not that all of this isn't in and of itself an adventure :) So we piled in the car and headed out!!! We spent the day at Kruger park. We had a great time watching for Lions and other animals and actually saw Lions, some hippo heads, impala, lots of elephants and we ended the day with some giraffes! God is a God of details and even answered these prayers (I REALLY wanted to see lions and giraffes).



We set out with nothing on the agenda except for "24 Hours of nothing but FUN"!!! It was a breath of fresh air to get away and just spend some time together.

We were able to go with a dear family from here that Melanie has known for years and has been an incredible blessing to us. The weekend away was good and as we saw these powerful animals we were reminded that if God can care for these, how much more will he care for His own children!?

We headed back to reality with a phone call that said I could pick up the kids tomorrow and have custody! Oh happy day!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Prayer Request

Here I find myself at week 3.5. But who is counting :) It is going well and I am trying to really enjoy my time with the kids without all the responsibilities at home. People at home have really stepped up to help and Chris is now home from Texas.

All that being said, my heart does desire to be together. I came out here with a return ticket for January 14th. I am absolutely prepared to stay that long, but if God wanted to move mightily, I wouldn't mind :)


A dear friend of mine always says, "We have not cause we ask not". I know that many of you are literally all over the world praying. I thought that I would send some specific requests out and we could be unified in our prayers. So here I go.

1. Pray that I obtain custody this week. It is so hard to send them back each night and it is getting harder and harder for the kids.

Jackson screams now when I leave him and they do not want me out of their sight. We need the signature of a man named Erik. Pray he is stuck in the office, whatever it takes to get this signature.

2. Pray the Social Worker completes our socio-economic report QUICKLY! That she could not rest until this is done.

3. Pray we go to court this week. Now that would be an act of God!!! The lawyer and courts pretty much close this Friday until after the New Year. Our lawyer is actually on vacation Dec 18-Jan11.

3. The doctor that we need to see prior to leaving is on vacation.

They have a back up doctor that is willing to see us, but was booked solid for the rest of the year. He called today and I have a tentative appt scheduled for Dec 22nd. Once again, it will be an absolute miracle if I make this. But, we serve a God of miracles right?

4. Pray that when we have our adoption decree that there will be NO hiccups with our passports, so we can leave quickly.

5. Pray that I would "Be still and know that He is God". It is tough for a "Doer" personality like me to sit and wait on others.

6. Please pray that Melanie's case is wrapped up by the end of the year. Pray that God would move in a BIG way!!!!!

7. Please pray for strength and endurance for myself and Melanie.

This is all very emotionally exhausting. Not to mention caring for 8 children in the home, trying to implement some type of routine and schooling for them as English is their second language.

8. Please pray for our biological children and they are carrying a heavy load with all of the changes that they are currently in, as well as those ahead.

Once again, thank you for walking this road with us. We are very aware of love that has been poured out on us and we would not be able to go through this on our own. You are our backbone!

~Carrie

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Carrie getting the kids ready for their FIRST Christmas and Birthdays!





It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I am a mom who is BIG on tradition. If you ask anyone who has lived
with me, the saying "Let's make a Memory" is all too frequent.
Usually followed by Chris saying, "Can't we just have the memory
before we try to capture it"? As I have cameras going all over the
place. My favorite time of year is Christmas. I love the feeling of
Christmas! We are usually done shopping around October and I can
just enjoy the season. Make cookies, celebrate Advent, have parties,
listen to Christmas cd's that have been packed away all year, the
list goes on.

This year has been tough as I can't be with my entire family. I must
admit that I haven't missed the commercialism of it all, but I sure
do miss the kids. It has been a good reminder of what is important.
Celebrating with those that we love. Over the past couple of days we
have been bringing the kids back to the house to do some celebrating
(we still don't have custody so we have chaperoned visits).
Yesterday we dusted off the Christmas tree and rounded up some
decorations and went for it! The kids had a ball. Now, all the
ornaments are on the bottom half of the tree, which is the opposite
of the tree at home where all the ornaments are on the top half of
the tree since Gracen thinks that they are great toys! Random pieces
of garland here and there and bows haphazardly placed wherever. BUT
it is BEAUTIFUL! For these children it is the first Christmas that
they have ever had and they are loving every minute of it. Today we
make salt dough ornaments and you would have thought that they won
the lottery! Seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child who is
soaking it all in, really reminds you of what it is all about. We
have stockings hung with poster putty, Christmas carols on the
computer and it is one of the most relaxed Christmas' ever!

I can't wait until we are all together. I miss the hot cocoa (even in
Hawaii) and nights by the tree with Chris, I miss our yearly prime
rib dinner on Christmas night and Chinese food on Christmas eve. I
miss celebrating our 7th anniversary with the man who I have loved
since I was 21 (not bad 5 kids in 7 years), I miss seeing the kids
run down the stairs in their Christmas jammies on Christmas morning
and so much more.

BUT through all this I know that we are gaining SO much and it is all
worth it. Seeing my biological children learn to give back and make
a difference in a hurting world, teaching my children that family is
family no matter what color you might be, making a difference in the
lives of children, yet really knowing the life that is really being
touched is mine, NOW that is what Christmas is all about!

PS Mykah's birthday is December 26th and Jackson's is January 1st. I
can't wait to celebrate those with them for the first time. They
didn't even know when they were. My how things have changed in a year!!!!
-Carrie

Monday, December 7, 2009

Is today the day....?????






What an appropropriate question for going through the adoption process. It's one I've been asking a lot lately and as I started thinking about it tonight, is pretty much one we've been asking all along the way. Is today the day ...when we'll get our home study scheduled...when we'll find out if we have a match...when we'll find out when we travel...when Carrie will get to go see the kids...when we'll get the kids out of the orphanage. That's where we are right now, still stuck on that one and there are gonna be LOTS more to come, I AM SURE! But I also thought back to each of these phases and how it seemed as if an answer would never come and then, BAM! All of a sudden, there it was. Beginning of Nov, we didn't have a hope from the agency that we'd go before Jan. BUT, we kept praying, "God we really want to have these kids home for Christmas, PLEASE God, let us go get them!?" And out of no where, God answered that...in his way, in his timing.






Now Carrie is there and it IS HARD having to leave our children neglected in an orphanage every night. I am so ready for these children's legacy as orphans to end and for them to go to bed at night knowing that for the rest of their lives they have a momma that is right next door and she will NEVER leave them. And they have a daddy back home that cannot WAIT to meet them and he will NEVER leave them. And they have two beautiful sisters and a brother back home that cannot WAIT to meet them, show them around, show them their toys, bedroom, swing and play with them and will NEVER leave them. I am ready for them to no longer be orphans and to be our son and daughter.



It is hard being in this state of flux, unknowing and continually being disappointed in an individual who continually fails people going through probably the most life-changing and impacting event in their lives. One would only hope that such an experience would be treated fragilly and with respect, but that is not the case, but our hope ultimately MUST NOT rest in that person, but in HIM. So we will struggle to do that and keep praying our first prayer- "God, please let us all be together back home for Christmas, PLEASE."


Is today the day...????

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Daily Visits


So, Carrie has been going every day since Sat to see the kids. Sunday they had an outting with all of the Fullingim's as well as an African family they are friends with and their children...LOTS of children. Mykah and Jackson loved it. Mykah's comment upon seeing the spread of food was, "this is beautiful!" Carrie kept the rascals eating and encouraged the chicken to get them some protein! :)


Melanie and Carrie have yet to receive custody of the kids (two weeks of daily visits now for Melanie!). We are praying that this would happen this week!! On a positive note, the kids seem to be attaching very well to Carrie...so much so that it's become pretty heart-wrenching for Carrie as Jackson breaks down every time she has to leave. It is hard for both these mommas, so PRAY hard that they would get custody TOMORROW (Thur!).



Mon was the first time Jackson cried and Melanie noticed and told Carrie. Carrie went back to pick him up and thought he had hurt himself. After a bit in her arms of comfort he calmed back down and she took him to Mykah and talked with her to take care of him. When she put him down he broke down again and in that moment she realized why he was crying. How powerful, how beautiful and how painful deep down to the core of Carrie's heart all at the same time. They need to get out of this orphanage...they need to be with their momma. Pray for her courage and strength and for their endurance and continued hope as they continue to sleep on their own and only get to spend a few moments of each day with Carrie.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holding two precious kids!!!




Well, Carrie has been in Africa since Tues at noon. She'd received no return calls/texts from the adoption director over there until this morning and she just called to tell me how her FIRST encounter with Jackson and Mykah went!!! How exciting this moment is! How I wish I could have been there with her to welcome them into our family!!! I just pray a peace is upon their little hearts and that they felt so desired in their momma's arms like they've never felt in life! What a day...



Carrie said she thinks the two of them together are easier to hold than Gracen! Time to get some of momma's good cookin' in those children!! Apparently need to get Jackson to a dentist in a bad way too! :( Just wanna zip 'em back here and start taking care of them!! How exciting it's going to be when Colin and Maddie wake up in the morning and I get to tell them that their momma got to hold, squeeze, play with and love on their brother and sister!!! They are going to be SO EXCITED to hear this news!! They have been praying all week that mommy gets to see Jackson and Mykah soon!


So, from here Carrie will be able to make day trips to see them and will be able to pick them up , take them on adventures and then take them back to the orphanage at night. This goes on until the director gives her the okay to keep them. Hopefully this will be fast, but some time for them to meet her on their stompin' grounds hopefully will give them a little time to adjust. Then there's just paperwork and meetings to get through and we're hoping it moves along.


We have been able to talk on the phone a few minutes a day, but the internet connection has been shady at best. She was able to get off some low resolution pics of the kids that Melanie had taken and Jackson and Mykah are BEAUTIFUL!! My mom got here Tues as well and things are settling in just in time for me to leave for two weeks on Mon!! I don't know where I'd be without her stepping up like this...it's what family's about, you know!?


Pray for all the kids as they are adjusting to so much- Jackson and Mykah to this white, red-headed, blue eyed beauty of a momma that has a heart so huge they will never see then end of it. Colin, Maddie and Gracen as they go through 2 weeks of life without their momma and daddy (I head to San Antonio on Mon for an Army course).

Also for my mom as she takes care of things and keeps the Elliott B&B running. (thanks to all that are stepping up in this time to help!!! It will make the UNdoable, doable!!!)


I'll try to get up some pics of Carrie's first visit once she's able to get some my way!!