Thursday, June 28, 2012


{captured.} I'm captured. captured by God's love for us. captured that I've been given this job. Momma to 5 seriously precious, sweet, crazy, funny, lovable kiddos. I look at each one of our kids & see 5 very different, beautiful, unique personalities. In these last 2 weeks since Ariyat arrived here at home, we have been very laid back, enjoying one another & truly just spending our days getting to know one anothers similarities & differences. We've been cocooning to the best of our ability & it feels so right. There is absolutely nothing I'd rather do than spend time with our family. We've been enjoying our lazy mornings, jumping on the trampoline in our pj's, reading books, taking walks, grilling out & just being together. Ariyat continues to be her sweet, silly, sunshine-y self!! We hardly ever see her without a smile...her giggles are heard throughout our home!! Each morning when the girls wake up, they go to their closet, pick out an outfit & I hear them saying..."same-same!!" Most days they are dressed alike, if they can't find perfectly matching outfits, they improvise!!

Many times throughout the day, I catch myself just gazing at our kiddos. I'm amazed. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about what God has done in our family. Almost 11 years ago, Kasey & I were almost to our wedding day & today is everything I had hoped for, but never knew was possible. The road to get to where we are wasn't always easy. but, we made it. The Lord stood by us & pulled us through & I can't help but feel so thankful. I feel like one blessed mother & wife. {captured}

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

forever has begun.

Forever. She's here forever. It felt like that day would never come. But, it did. She's been home almost a week's hard to imagine how our lives were before she was in it. She fits. We fit. She was our missing puzzle piece.
You know how I've mentioned over & over about her smile & that laugh of hers...well, we are hearing that & seeing it on a daily basis...she's an extremely happy little girl. She & Kate are two peas in a pod. The boys are already so protective of her & even willing to dress up in girl clothes if it makes her smile...she laughs uncontrollably:) I wish you could see the wonder in her eyes every time she takes a warm shower or soaks in the tub...she splashes the warm water up on her face & smiles like I've never seen before. The way her nose squishes up is almost identical to the way Kate's does. If I'm not in the same room as her, I will hear..."Mommyyyyyy, come on!!" With each day that passes, we are seeing more & more of her sweet personality. She is so easy going, loves to dress up in really girly clothes & loves matching with her sister & chasing her brothers!! We are certainly blessed.

Our guess is that she is right around Kate's age...probably 7-8! She's almost the same height as her & wears the same size in clothes:) Basically, they think they are twins!!

Each morning when she wakes, she greets us with a hug & points to the backyard....she loves to jump on the trampoline! So, if you've seen 5 pajama wearing kids & their pajama wearing parents at 9 am...that's us!! We are all enjoying seeing her experience each 1st!! It brings us such joy & I'm in constant amazement that we are Ariyat's family. God sure has been faithful and good. And, He always is and always will be. Even in the midst of adoption delays, wondering how we would financially afford the 2 trips, making the decision for me to stay back on this last trip...He was there. He never left us. He walked with us. So, we continue to walk in the way of The Lord.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 4: Embassy Interview

Day 4:

Pretty leisurely day today, which was actually really refreshing. Didn't have to worry about anything or wonder if we will make our flight on Wednesday.  Ariyat and I went on a day long trip with Biniyam, our hotel driver who is more of a friend now after 2 trips than a driver.  Him and I have discussed everything from his girlfriend problems to his desire to come to America.  I will truly miss our talks.  I had a list of small things to track down and they seemed to be on opposite ends of Addis, which was a blast going all over town. 

At 1:00, Ariyat and I headed to the US Embassy for our Embassy Interview date.  Ok, the title of the blog makes it seem like an in depth interview when really it consists of standing in front of a glass window and saying yes to like 3 questions and then walking out.  A little anti-climatic after a year long journey but uneventful seems to be a rarity in the adoption process and very welcomed. We headed back to Hotel where Ariyat and I had a celebratory piece of cake that she devoured.  So fun watching her enjoy herself. Her personality is really starting to come out.  The first few days, she was pretty calm and quiet just taking it all in.  Today she laughed and giggled and was such a refreshing sound.  We ended our last day eating Island Breeze, which is a great restaurant.  

At the end of the day I started to have a feeling that I remember from when we brought the boys home and it is excitement mixed with a little sadness in addition to that I started thinking about how this might be our last trip back for a few years..  See, I love the culture my kids are from and the people.  I want them to know it so badly.  So, when I think about them leaving all the beautiful things about Ethiopia, you can't help but feel a little sadness.  Kristen and I want them to be so proud of their culture, their people, their backgrounds.  We can't wait to bring all the kids back in the future and enjoy it together.


Monday, June 11, 2012

DAY 3: JEMO and Embassy Clearance


At 6 am I decided to be proactive and a little bold I guess and e-mail the embassy requesting that they clear our case and asked for a Embassy date for the next day and also to rush our paperwork after embassy date so we can pick it up on the 13th before we leave.  Not to much to ask right.  lol... Well it paid off.  We received an e-mail this morning around 11am saying we cleared and a Embassy date for the 12th... Prayers answered and was great news to receive after we got home from Jemo.  I don't know what we would have done if they would not have cleared us.  Makes my stomach sick thinking about the predicament we would have been in.  We kinda made this trip on blind faith and hope because we wanted to meet the birth aunt since she was here for her Embassy date. 

So, recently our church made the decision to partner with Hope Chest in Addis Ababa at the care site called Jemo.  Since our church decided to partner with Jemo my wife and I have been really excited to visit the site and be apart of an awesome opportunity to learn from an amazing culture and people.  Today was the day I got to visit Jemo. It was awesome, but I kept thinking how much my wife would have loved to be here. But we will definitely be back... I was a little worried about what Ariyat and what she would think we were doing but when we met Helina she explained everything to Ariyat and we were on our way.  When we pulled into the site the boys were playing soccer and the kids were surrounding our car.  The boys grabbed our driver Binyam and I and dragged us into the game.  When I looked up I couldn't help but notice that my team included a bunch on small young boys (who were still better than me) and our driver who was in dress clothes. The other team consisted of 6 older boys all with there high school team soccer jerseys on.  The boys sure thought it was funny to make me chase them all over and then watch me bend over in agony trying to catch my wind.  I am going to go ahead and blame it on the altitude.

After my heart attack, the Reverend pulled up to the site because she wanted to meet with me.  She is an amazing lady who is the first female Reverend in Addis Ababa.  She walked me through her vision for the church, the children, and the children's families.  When she was talking to me, you could not help but feel her passion and love.  It was truly awesome.  The trip ended with the best of all.  She asked me to stay for a coffee ceremony which is such a treat and while we were sitting in the church waiting for the coffee.  All the children funnelled into the church and went up on the stage and started singing upbeat christian children's songs while the older boys played the keyboard.  I can't wait to share the video of this to all of you when I get home.  Helina noticed Ariyat singing along to the songs, which she must have known, so she asked Ariyat to go up on stage with the kids and she had the biggest smile on her face as she walked up there and started to sing with them.  We said our good byes to the Helina and the Reverend (her name is slipping me at the moment) with the excitement for the day we can come back because I know Kris will fall in love with all the people at the site like I did.

When we got back to the hotel and ate lunch Ariyat looked at me and said "la ten ya" which means It's time to go to sleep.  She crashed until supper and then we got to spend another night with Brad and Kathleen, who are adopting a sweet little boy, for supper at Antica.  I really enjoy our conversations and sharing stories. Nice to have families here that relate to your situation.

I am looking forward to gettin Embassy behind us tomorrow and finding some oil for Ariyat's hair. (forgot to bring) Keep getting comments that say "I need to use oil, her hair is dry".  Oops

Ps. Enjoy this photo of my little girl feeling pretty good about her outfit. Love it...


Sunday, June 10, 2012

DAY 2: The Interview

Day 2:

Ariyat slept so well last night and when I woke up on my little twin bed, I opened my eyes to the most beautiful brown eyes starring back at me with a smile on her face.  She helped me pick out an outfit of course. (she was in the Care Center matching mode, yikes) but we got it figured out and she wanted to rock the hat today so that was fun.  After breakfast we headed to the care center to meet Ariyat's aunt for the birth family interview.  She is a slender tall young lady but very quiet. We all sat down and started talking which takes a bit with three different translations. Speaking of that, it is kinda funny because the translator will ask her the question that I had asked and she will respond with this seemed to be very in depth answer and while I am getting excited to get this long answer it gets translated down to a 2 word answer. But I felt like I got a lot of good information to share with Ariyat when the time is right and she wants to talk about it.  I did find out that Ariyat's mothers name was Ariyat so I love that she has that.  It did get hard though when I asked if there was anything she wanted Ariyat to know when she asks in the future and I could see her aunts eyes well up with tears as she gave me a heart felt answer.  Anyone that knows me, knows that if I see someone cry I have a hard time.  So I was sitting there telling myself, "suck it up you big baby"  didn't know how a crying man would go over in that situation. But it was such a relief to know that I have that to share with Ariyat.  After that I was thinking that the emotional part was over only to have to watch Ariyat and "O" say there goodbyes.  Ariyat had been at the care center with a group of girls that were all around the same age and had arrived together.  Over the past 2-3 months those girls have been united with their forever families but now it is down to Ariyat and "O" and you could see the sadness all over "O"'s face.  I just wanted to take her with us. 

During the afternoon, we went to Lucy's which is my favorite restaurant in Addis Ababa.  After that we went back to the hotel where I crashed while Ariyat watched Tangled twice.  Then finally the phone rang, Brad and Kathleen called to ask us to supper with them at the Makush and it was so nice to get out of the room and love looking at the art. 

I am very excited for tomorrow morning, Ariyat and I are going to visit Jemo which is our care sight that our church sponsor thru Hope Chest.  Look forward to telling you more.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 1: Reunited

Day 1: I woke up this morning feeling unusually nervous. In my mind I kept thinking about what was going to happen when she sees me for the first time again. She was so clingy to Kristen and not me when we were here in March, so that had me worried.

I went for walk down the street after breakfast to watch the kids soccer team practice which was awesome by the way. Dakota United Soccer Club better pick up there practice intensity, holy cow. After that it was time for the drive to the care center. I showed up at the front gate, so nervous I needed water and Ariyat ran up and grabbed me. It was such an awesome feeling knowing that she was excited to see me. At the same time she was holding onto me and holding my hands, I could see her Aunt who is in town for her Embassy interview in the background watching. Made my heart sink for her. Later I saw her watching Ariyat sit on my lap and she was smiling while she wiped away a tear. She is a young lady maybe about 18 years old tops but she carried herself with such dignity. Our translator was not there today so I didn't get a chance to speak with her and I am so excited for that in the morning. I have so many things to ask and tell her. That will be a good update for tomorrow...

She continuously asks about mom, Kate, and Grant. (she doesn't know Ageze and Tesfa yet but soon) and I know she is excited to get to America to see them. She keeps saying, "Momma home". I know Kris wants to be here so bad to be with Ariyat but she mad such a sacrifice to stay home and make sure the transition can go as well as it can. I love that about her. Kids first, every time... Tonight after she ate a huge bowl of Spaghetti for supper we went back to the room and Ariyat just looked at me and said "Poppa, TV off" ha just like her mom then she crashed. Look forward to telling you more tomorrow.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

sites and sounds I can't wait to see... and oh the smell, love it

Yes I should be sleeping but 5 hours and we will be on a plane going to one of the most wonderful place on earth.  I can't wait, if you have been there you know what I am talking about. The sounds, the visuals, and best of all, the smell. Yes I said smell...It is indescribable.  So I thought I would share some of the photos that I love to look at when I am missing Addis. But, the last photo I posted is the best reason of all to being going back...Can't wait!

Have I mentioned she has the most infectious smile!

Monday, June 4, 2012

3 days. 5 days. forever.

In 3 short days we are headed here....

& in 5 short, but very long days we will have her in our arms again:) Forever!!!!!

I can't even begin to describe how excited I am to hear that infectious laugh of hers, hug her & never let go, & hear her sweet, precious little voice. We are so ready to have her home & begin our life as a family of 7!!

We would so appreciate prayers for this coming week...for safe & smooth travels, good health for all of us, my they will be watching our other 4 here, she is leaving everyone & everything that is familiar to her....may this transition go as smooth as possible. May she feel the love that we have for her. For our 4 here, that the week might cruise on by...the excitement & anticipation they are feeling is so awesome, but they might feel like 7 days is lasting forever...I guess I should parents might feel like 7 days is forever!! ha!! Thank you so much for thinking about & praying for all of us. We appreciate all of the well wishes, words of encouragement, prayer, financial support so, so very much!!! May you feel the same amount of love in return. We certainly feel blessed & loved!! xo