What a year can bring

Sorry it’s been ages since I have written! So much has happened in the last 4 months, I need to make time to sit down and share all of our adventures to Africa and back. That will have to wait until another time…

I do want to share that today it has been a year since we first saw the wonderful email with the subject “Referral of Marie,” and it happens to be the 4 month mark since we boarded a plane to go meet our new daughter! Wow, has time flown! I remember both days like they were yesterday. I remember running errands, hearing that lovely ting of my phone saying there as an email, having a gut feeling I needed to check this one right away (who am I kidding…during the adoption process most mamas become incessant email checkers). When I saw the word “Marie” my heart was beating out of my chest and I had a feeling this was our daughter before even seeing her picture. M was just over 2 at the time and all of her dolls were named baby, except for one, who for some reason she had named Marie. It was like a smile from God saying from the beginning, “I’ve got this, my child. My plans are SO much bigger than yours!” And needless to say, seeing her picture made us fall in love with her!

I remember four months ago feeling like my heart was torn in two. My sister in law had gone into premature labor the night before, and had my handsome nephew, Camdyn, in the wee hours of the morning in Bismarck… 6 1/2 weeks early. My parents, who had lovingly offered to watch O and M, were about to be thrown into some absolute craziness. My dad is a photographer, and had school pictures scheduled for that day, my mom had drove the 2 hours to Bismarck the night before to be with my brother as they waited to see when precious little Cam would be born. Of ALL days, that day was not the best to leave my kids who were already nervous and scared for mommy and daddy to be gone. It all worked out okay, thanks to some pretty cool friends who stepped up to help! Needless to say, I was a wreck thinking of all the ‘what ifs,” with us flying thousands of miles away to a different continent. When we had gotten to the Rapid City airport, I had given the ticket agent my yellow fever card inside my passport, and not until I was ready to board did I notice that my yellow fever card did not make it back inside my passport…not a good thing when it is required to enter DRC!! That didn’t settle my nerves any! I now was thinking that maybe my lovely husband should finish the trip to Africa and get our daughter by himself…He wasn’t sold on that idea! Thankfully our great state of ND health department was able to fax a copy of the information and vital stamp needed to Chicago (with less than an hour to spare)! God was hard at work putting the right people at the right time to figure it all out! When we were going through customs in DRC, the lady in front of me was getting hassled from the people checking the yellow fever cards, and when it was my turn, the gentleman who had come to check my paperwork didn’t flinch and just let me go through…another God moment!

There has been so much that has happened this past year. Some great ups (best was bringing Bella home), and some major “downs”. I do know that through both the ups and the downs, God taught us incredible lessons. He has been so faithful to provide, so faithful to show us through good and bad that He hasn’t left us! Even though I would love to take away those months of excruciating waiting to bring Bella home, I know God used every difficult moment to teach us to cling to and to completely trust Him. Some days it wasn’t so easy, but now that I get to hold this beautiful blessing, I know only a wonderful God could have orchestrated it. I mean, it was all HIM that planted the seed of international adoption in our hearts, it was HIM who lead us to our agency, it was HIM that through grief and sadness and horrible losses took a beautiful child and lead her to us. I know that He knew every one of her days before even one came to be…the thought overwhelms me and I can’t help but be humbled that He chose us to be her parents.

Thank you GOD for this last year full of blessings!!

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Fly!

I haven’t had a chance to update, but we officially have Bella’s visa!! We were given the Okay to book tickets!! (We are not sharing details on when we are leaving for safety purposes), but we do want to share the excitement!!

O and M had the great opportunity to go to the “Sky” VBS this summer and have been singing this song repeatedly since…as in it plays on repeat in my brain the nights when I am trying to sleep!!

It fits our adventure to a “T”!

Fly

Embassy Date!!!!

So a BIG day in our adoption is Finally here!! Our in country coordinator in only a matter of hours (because of the time change) will be taking Bella and many other little loves to their Embassy appointment! This starts the last steps in our journey to bring her to her FOREVER home! We again need our prayer warriors to jump in and pray for this process to go quickly and smoothly for all of the kiddos!!

We have been BLOWN away by all of the people who have consistently and faithfully prayed for us and Bella in this process! We are forever thankful for each and every one of you! We have seen God’s hand in so many ways throughout our journey and have seen so many answers to prayer! Even though there have been times we have gotten frustrated because timing hasn’t been what we wanted, we fully trust that His timing is perfect…He’s always on time!

My baby is growing up!

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Dear O,
Today is the first day of preschool! You are growing up so fast and your mommy is so incredibly proud of you! You were so brave today and I just pray that you are having a blast with your friends!
Always remember, even when you are scared, God is with you! How cool is that?! The creator of the universe is with you at preschool!

You are slowly learning to grow wings, and even though it is tough on this mommy, I know that these steps will lead you to be the special young man God had made you to be! I pray He helps to guard your heart and little mind as you take these steps! I also pray that you stand up for what is right and help protect those who are picked on.

Always remember… You are LOVED!!

Hope in her despair

Recently I spoke with our caseworker and she shared multiple times that Bella is a crier.  Even on her recent medical form her personality was defined as “crier”.  When they speak to the staff at the transition house, Bella is often crying in the background.  Apparently she cries all the time for ‘no reason’.  My heart hurts for her.  I cannot imagine how much my sweet little 16 month old has had to endure, and there is some reason she is crying.  Her first momma died when she was only a couple months old, has been cared for by multiple people, and after she attached to her foster momma, she was taken to a new place, where she was unfamiliar with everything.  Even though we are beyond excited for when we get to meet her and bring her home, it is going to be yet another big change for her and chances are, she won’t be as excited as us!  We are bracing ourselves for a less than welcoming “gotcha day.”  We are super excited to potentially be travelling with other families, but after talking to S, it sounds like the best thing for our little princess will be to lock ourselves away for our time there to focus bonding. 

Psalm 34: 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 

I have to remind myself that NO hurt is too much for our Savior to heal.  Our sweet little daughter needs so much prayer that her heart can be healed and that she can learn to trust us as her parents.  We also need prayer for wisdom to best meet her needs. 

We love you so much, our little love.  We are ready and so willing to help you heal (and help you learn to laugh and enjoy life!)

 

Flying high!

We have recently received great news!! We have an Embassy date, and so much sooner than we expected…That was definitely an answer to prayer.  God is SO good and so faithful!  This also means we can prayerfully bring her home in about a month…what a day that will be 🙂

We also received an unexpected email today with a sweet picture and update of Bella!  We heard that she is the loudest in the house (of 18!), loves the cook, just started walking, had a tooth pop through, started saying some words, and SMILING (with the bribe of sweets)!  There are so many milestones that we have missed, but just feel so blessed that she is healthy and smiling.  We know her heart has been through so much in her little life, but we know that God has chosen her to be a part of our family and we trust that He is preparing us to best parent her to be a joyful little girl!  She can soon join the silly little monkeys already in our home 🙂

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Working on Embassy appt…

To my dearest African Princess,

We heard some good news this week…they are working on scheduling the Embassy appointment! We (and a lot of mommy and daddy’s friends and family) are praying that this happens quicker than normal so we can come to you! You are constantly in our prayers and we think about you every moment of the day. What are you doing? Are you feeling safe? What are you spending your days doing? (we hear you are loving the cook :)). Are you growing? Walking? How are you sleeping…do you suck your thumb, have a special lovey when you sleep? We are praying hard that God is preparing your little heart for your new family. Even though we know it takes much more than just love, we already have plenty of that for you! Your big brother and sister are ready to share their toys with you! They tell everyone they meet about you! Their VBS is even raising money so mommy and daddy can take mosquito nets with us when we come get you to help save others in DRC from malaria. The kids have done an awesome job-as of tonight I think they had enough money for 44 nets!

A couple weeks ago we received a new couple pictures of you in the transition house. You have already grown SO much!! Some of your friends had a birthday, so we were able to see pictures of you and your friends enjoying a nice birthday bash! It made mommy and daddy’s hearts so happy that you are in a safe, and seemingly very loving environment.

We love you more than you will ever know!

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Safe and sound

Well, Bella and 17 other little beauties made it safe and sound to the transition house!  I can’t imagine what it’s like in that house while they are all getting settled…I imagine a little chaotic!  We are just praying that she and her new friends are all settling in and not scared. 

Join me and praying for these precious little babies as they learn their new surroundings. 

We are coming soon my little love!!

Safe and sound

Well, Bella and 17 other little beauties made it safe and sound to the transition house!  I can’t imagine what it’s like in that house while they are all getting settled…I imagine a little chaotic!  We are just praying that she and her new friends are all settling in and not scared. 

Join me and praying for these precious little babies as they learn their new surroundings. 

We are coming soon my little love!!

The week of the rollercoaster…

Last week, Leif, I, the kids, and Samson (our Old English Sheepdog), packed up and headed to Montana to spend some quality time with Leif’s family at their ranch for almost a full week.  We were all looking forward to spending time with family, the sight of Mountains, and some good “getaway” time.  We greatly enjoyed the weekend with his family….O and M ran their older cousins hard!! They definitely “hit the ground running” from the moment we set foot on the ranch.  His family’s ranch is set below the Crazy Mountains, and a great place to enjoy God’s creation! 

Monday morning, Leif had to head to Bozeman to do some work, so with the built in babysitters of a wonderful Tante (aunt), uncle, Mormor (grandma), Grandpa, and cousins, I decided to go with him and enjoy the day away.  While shopping, I received a call from our caseworker sharing that Bella was in the hospital being treated for malaria and received a blood transfusion, it was pretty serious.  My heart sank.  Thankfully Leif just returned from a visit with a customer and walked into the store.  It took all I had not to burst into tears right then and there.  I made it to the car and all I could think about was to get people praying.  I knew we had limited time for cell service and internet, so we both set out in tears to alert our prayer warriors via phone, text, and facebook.  Amidst tears, I would see an encouraging text or facebook response with the simple words of “praying” and my heart felt so blessed in a scary moment like that.  I knew that these amazing people were lifting up our precious daughter to our Father. (By the way, we can’t thank you enough for praying).  It was tough, knowing that we had other families in our program that lost children to malaria before they brought them home.  We had to have faith that God could and would heal her.   

All I could think about was after our firstborn, O, was born, and rushed to Bismarck’s NICU.  That was horribly scary, but I knew that we had family that was able to follow the ambulance there, and I could be there the next morning to be with him.  This was a new feeling of helplessness.  Our daughter was over 8,000 miles away and we couldn’t even hold her hand to comfort her and tell her how much we love her. 

We then went a day without an update…talk about the longest almost 48 hours of my life!  My heart and stomach were in knots.  When we finally heard that she was out of the hospital and doing much better, we also heard more good news!! She was being moved to Kinshasa to start the next steps of bringing her home.  We were so relieved that she is able to do this because it means we are on the final leg…but it also means that our little princess, who is probably still weak, will have to take a long flight to get there.  We are praying hard that she does okay and thrives in the transition home until we get to go get her!!!!

So what does that mean, you may ask?  She now has to get her passport, medical appointment for her visa, and some of the last steps before we can travel to get her.  It looks like it could be 6-8 weeks, if all goes smoothly, to bring our precious Bella home!!! 

Please, please, please continue to pray for our family, Bella, and for these last steps to go extra smooth to bring her home!