By the Numbers: Quick Trip to Ethiopia


After 4 airports, nearly 36 hours of travel, and 14,000 miles in the air, Suzanne and I are home. Thanks for all the prayers, encouragement, and support along the way–many of you walk this journey with us and we couldn’t do it without you. Seriously.

Even as tired as we are, though, we’d turn around and do it again tomorrow to get those kids here. Here’s to hoping the wait for our embassy appointment is short.

(UPDATE: For the record, the numbers above are for the one-way trip from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Springfield, IL. Double them for the round trip.)

And Now We Have Nine Children


We passed court today so we have the pleasure of introducing:

“Tigist Michael Gowin”
“Dawit Michael Gowin”
“Solomon Michael Gowin”

We are going to talk with them today about some American names we have picked out, but for now these are their official names.

Today is still very busy–we’ll have time with the kids this afternoon and then we’ll need to pack for our flight out tonight. More details to come soon.

(Bonus: our checked bags arrived today–just in time for us to pass out some gifts on behalf of friends and then to turn around and head home tonight.)






Whirlwind Trip to Ethiopia

In case you haven’t heard this already, Michael and I are on our way to Ethiopia today. Just 5 months after applying to our adoption agencies, and even after a two month wait for our state paperwork to come through, we are about to head to court to adopt three more kiddos! Yes, we are aware. That makes nine.

Last November, only days, in fact, after Kieran’s leg surgery at Shriners in St. Louis, I got an email that Kieran’s three younger siblings were now at the orphanage. What?!? We spent focused time in prayer and fasting about it with some close friends, and, well, here we go again‚Ķ. ūüôā¬† (You can read our original, more detailed announcement here.)

This adoption has felt so different from the others. Some sense of urgency that we don’t quite understand yet. Even the fact that the adoption pursuit began in the middle of the turmoil that was threatening to close down Ethiopian adoptions was actually another force that hastened our adoption along rather than slowing it down. We went forward, putting forth a large amount of money, taking the risk that we knew we were supposed to be doing this and that God would do what HE wanted to do.

It seems like this time around, immediately after we would finish one crisis or focused time (like after taking an intensive class on parenting kids from hard places, after K’s surgery, after we taught our first Empowered To Connect class, after renovating our home for more kids, etc.), God has dropped the next ball in our laps to juggle. At least He is not giving us everything at the same time!

So along the same pattern, we got a call late last Monday from our agency saying that we might be traveling on Friday! And then we didn’t hear for sure till Wednesday!

We were originally told that September would be the earliest we would travel since the new Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) would take that long. However, for some reason ours went through more quickly than our agency has ever seen it happen! God has a plan, and for some reason He wants these kids home PRONTO! Maybe when it is all said and done we will understand better. Maybe not. But we continue to trust and try to enjoy the ride–even if the ride this time is a high speed roller coaster!

So if you would like to pray for us, here are our prayer points:

  • for our short time with our kids and to pass court
  • for finances to come as quickly as our adoption
  • ESPECIALLY for Kieran’s leg to heal quickly so he can go with us on our second trip in a month to bring the kids home. He really needs to say goodbye to some family that he didn’t get to before.

Thanks again for joining us on our journey! Hope you like roller coasters!

Normal Vs. Us, Episode 01: In Which We Will Fly To Ethiopia on Extremely Short Notice


International adoption brings with it a host of peculiarities: having your personal and financial doings exposed to strangers, the seemingly endless hours of paperwork, waiting, more paperwork, more waiting, travel, inevitable but awkward questions from (usually) well-meaning folks.

Today I want to highlight just one oddity–the way family plans can change dramatically and unexpectedly in just a few days.

Here’s the scene: on Monday, a husband and wife are seated at the breakfast table conversing about activities later in the week. Same conversation on Wednesday, the husband simply making sure¬†the Friday plans are still valid.

What it looks like for “normal” families


Husband (munching on toast): What are we doing Friday?

Wife (looking at calendar): Kids are out of school at 2:00,¬†the boys have haircuts. Then the usual–pizza and family movie night.

Husband (munching): OK.


Husband (munching on toast): So what are we doing Friday again?

Wife (distractedly): Kids are out of school at 2:00, Liam and Aidan have haircuts. Family movie night.

Husband (munching): OK.

And here’s what it looks like for families involved in international adoption


Husband (munching on toast): What are we doing Friday?

Wife (looking at calendar): Kids are out of school at 2:00,¬†the boys have haircuts. Then the usual–pizza and family movie night.

Husband (munching): OK.


Husband (munching on toast): So what are we doing Friday again?

Wife (distractedly):¬†The agency called. We need to leave for Ethiopia on Friday for a court appointment Tuesday. My mom’s driving up from Oklahoma tomorrow to stay with the kids.

Husband (munching): OK.

Annnnnd that’s our week, friends. For real.

Our adoption agency has said that our paperwork was¬†moving faster than expected but you’re never really sure what that means. So we’ve been in a holding pattern for a few weeks.

And then they called on Monday and said we needed to schedule a court appointment in Ethiopia, could we check our calendar? We suggested some dates. They called yesterday (Wednesday) to confirm that we have a court appointment next Tuesday.

So Suzanne and I will hop on a plane (three planes, really) tomorrow for Ethiopia, spend a couple days with the kids, go to court on Tuesday morning, then hop on a plane to come back home Tuesday night.

No biggie.

That’s how we roll when it’s¬†normal vs. us.