As Suzanne wrote the other day, we received our adoption referral from AWAA at the end of last week. Yesterday we signed the referral acceptance to say, “yes, we will accept these children into our family.”
Suzanne put together a “care package” last night for the kids as well. Another AWAA couple is making their way to Ethiopia soon and they will bring the gifts over for us. Included are some small toys and things plus a note from us for each of the kids.
We were also blessed yesterday when Suzanne’s friend Bethany stopped over with a couple of balloons to help us celebrate. Thanks, Bethany, for your thoughtfulness.
Each summer we visit Suzanne’s family in Oklahoma. This year, we mixed it up a bit by attending a few days at a family camp at New Life Ranch in Colcord, OK. Suz worked there one summer in college and signed us up for the first time as family campers. Since the trip would take close to nine hours from our home in Illinois, we spent a night in Springfield, Missouri, where we swam at the hotel, ate at Lambert’s Cafe (where they throw food at diners), visited the Bass Pro Shops headquarters, and were nearly eaten alive by wild camels at a safari animal park.
We all had a great time at New Life Ranch. I believe there were about 50 families there during our camp, and each family was assigned a staff member to help however the family needed assistance. The first morning of our stay, for example, Suzanne and I took a trail ride on horseback into the hills for breakfast, so our staff assistant, Mr. Luke, took the kids to breakfast at the dining hall and had them ready to go for the rest of the day when we returned. Sweet.
Each day began with a brief group worship time after which the kids went off to age-appropriate Bible lessons and activities while the adults spent time learning about parenting. Our speaker was Chip Jackson from Fellowship Northwest Arkansas church–he was terrific. Suz and I came away encouraged and with some good things to help us continue in our parenting journey. After lunch, we had the afternoon free to explore the camp’s numerous activities and facilities: ropes course, climbing walls, swimming pool, waterfront with huge slides, mountain biking, horseback riding, rifle/shotgun ranges, and more. Evenings involved more teaching time and group activities. Although we spent only two and a half days there, we were all exhausted from late nights, early mornings, and full days.
From Colcord, we went on to visit Suzanne’s family. We’ve posted a few photos from our trip here, and there’s a video below of Suz and I going down the zip line at the ranch. Although we signed up everybody to ride the zip line, only mom and dad were brave enough to climb to poles and go down.
Yes, we received our referral call on Friday!! What a surprise! We didn’t think it would come that soon! AWAA called to offer us siblings: a boy-4 years old and baby girl-3 months old! God had put almost those exact ages on our hearts when we applied! They are beautiful—“button cute” as Michael says! We can’t post pictures or any more information yet till we pass court and they officially belong to US! 🙂
Because of Ethiopian court closures in August and September during the rainy season, we probably won’t get a court date till about mid-October. But my good friend, Deanne Mott, is already over there with her girls for a month, so she can love on them for us while we wait! And I have been to the Transition Home and have seen how well the nannies care for and love on the children, so I am confident of our babies’ care until we can bring them home. After we pass court (which is not always on the first try), then it will take another 1-3 months while they gather paperwork for the Embassy and we go back and bring them home. We are hopeful to have them home before Christmas! (What a cold winter welcome they will receive!! 🙂 )
We have a lot to do between now and then, including me (Suzanne) trying to finish a 75-page MA thesis on God’s Heart for the Fatherless in Scripture. Please pray for 3 things: diligence and supernatural quickness on the research and writing, health and emotional comfort for our kids while they wait, and funds to continue to come in for the rest of the adoption. We are amazed at God’s grace and intimate hand on our lives through this whole process, and we pray He is glorified through it all!
Here is a picture of us showing our other 3 kids the photos of our new additions:
We met our match! Lifesong for Orphans had offered us a matching grant up to $2000 and we have received more than that in donations, so Lifesong will be granting us an extra $2000! Thanks so much to all who are supporting and praying and to Lifesong’s generosity! Here is our updated puzzle….do you see it starting to take shape??
We won’t be updating the puzzle for another 2 weeks because we will be going on a family trip to OK. The first part of our trip will be 4 days at New Life Ranch‘s Family Camp. We are excited to spend some time at the camp I worked at one summer almost 20 years ago! (Hard to believe I’m that old, I know!) There are ropes courses, zip lines into the river, archery, horseback riding, hiking, as well as family worship times and a late night outdoor movie. We are looking forward to some family bonding time away from Wi-Fi and cell service! 🙂 Soon, when our other kids come home from Ethiopia, Erin, Liam, and Maura know that there will be a bit more attention on our new kids as we bond and learn to communicate with them. So we thought it would be a good idea to spend some quality time with them now as extra reassurance of our love for them and each other. After family camp, we will go on to visit my family in OK for a few days and then head back home to Lincoln.
We hope you all had a blessed 4th of July! The kids had a great time decorating their bikes and riding in our local parade, ending with the fire truck hose down, of course! These are great memories to savor! (Please excuse the iphone photo! And, shhh, don’t tell photographer Michael–he would be appalled! Be sure to notice the hero cape on our youngest–she FLEW that day!)