Dossier

Dossier
This is the package that carried our hearts through Paris, Dubai, and on to Ethiopia :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Infertility- Handle With Care

I received an email today from someone who is a part of my past…a part that was painful. It brought back a lot of the emotions that I felt during this particularly dark part of my life. This time period lasted about three years, but I will bear the emotional scars of it until I die. For some women, there is no ending. It breaks my heart in a million pieces. This “dark age”, if you will, began when we tried to start a family, and became devastating when we were labeled “infertile”.
The word makes me shudder because it brings back a flood of emotions, but it also makes me grateful because my heavenly Father included it as part of my story. Without it, I would not have gained a passion for adoption, and would not have the two precious boys that make my life so happy. Without it, I would not have gained a more precious, intimate relationship with God…I NEEDED Him. We all need Him every day, but I needed Him like never before if I wanted to emotionally survive each day. Without it, I may not fully appreciate the miracle that is growing inside of me right now…I am in absolute awe and wonder. Without it, I would not have gained a better appreciation for sensitivity, and a strong desire to choose my words carefully lest I hurt someone emotionally. Without it, I may not have seen the tender side of my husband, who needed no explanation when I walked in the door from work crying…he would simply hold me for a few minutes and then quietly start to cook dinner so I wouldn’t have to. Yes, I can be thankful for this painful time, and I am.
Now that I am on the other side of infertility (and adoption), I feel like I can speak out on a few things for women who are struggling with it. Everything I say may not be true for every woman who goes through infertility. I am just speaking based on what I went through and have watched other women experience during this. In this particular email I received today, I was told “before you mentor anyone else, you need to examine yourself first”. Isn’t part of being a mentor sharing what you went through, the way you handled things, and how you would or wouldn’t do things differently? Hindsight is 20/20, and I know that I wasn’t always easy to be around, but I can say that if women going through infertility were given a little grace, their feelings validated, and given a little sensitivity…there may be a lot fewer of what are labeled as “bitter infertile women”. Infertility is devastating – emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially.
It is devastating emotionally because it is the loss of a dream. Most women have dreamed of their wedding day and having children from the time they were little girls. You marry a man that you are so in love with, you enjoy some time “just the two of you”, and then you decide it is time to start a family. You talk about what your baby may look like – will it have daddy’s eyes and mommy’s nose (in our case, hopefully not!)? You think of creative ways that you will tell friends and family your big news, and you start to write down potential baby names. A few months pass by with no pregnancy. You’re not worried yet because you have had friends who didn’t conceive until after 6-8 months of trying, but then more months pass by and you start to wonder if there is something wrong with you. After a full twelve months, you go to the doctor because at this point there is cause for concern. You and your husband both go through tests and you feel embarrassed. You may get results back and sit and cry because they found something wrong with you and you feel guilty because it’s your “fault”. On the other hand, you may get results back and fight feelings of bitterness because there is something wrong with your husband and it’s “his fault” that you cannot conceive. You put on a happy face and pretend like everything is okay, although on the inside you are panicking…”I may never be a mother. If I can never be a mother, I don’t want to live. I don’t want to be childless.” You have many friends and family members who are of childbearing age, and many of them become pregnant during this time. Each time you hear their wonderful news, you say “congratulations” because in your heart you truly are happy for them, but then you cry the rest of the day because you are reminded again of your closed womb and empty arms. You attend a few baby showers, but then you and your husband decide that it is counterproductive for you to subject yourself to baby showers if you are going to cry the rest of the day and be set back emotionally…so you start just sending a gift. You face many well-meaning yet insensitive comments. You decide that sensitivity training should become a part of the regular elementary school curriculum for every human being because if one more person tells you “you just need to relax and cut down on your stress and you will become pregnant”, you are going to scratch their eyeballs out. Even some close to you may feel like you are withdrawing or becoming bitter, and may approach you about it with good intentions, but it makes you feel worse. For most of my journey I was working with older folks (who sometimes don’t have a lot of tact) at an Ophthalmology practice. Each day I was asked by my patients when I was going to start having children, why I didn’t already have any children, when was my pregnant coworker’s baby due, and told maybe I should drink the same water she drank. Ouch. You feel defective, awkward, less-than, and forgotten.
It is devastating physically for several reasons. One, the emotional drainage makes you tired. Two, you may have to start some sort of medication to make you ovulate or to make your egg quality better, or you may have to undergo some sort of procedure whether it be exploratory or corrective. Many women have to give themselves injections month after month, and/or take pills that might as well be gold (I once dropped a pill that rolled under the fridge…I got a flashlight and found that sucker and swallowed it, under- the-fridge-fuzz and all. I figured if I paid $250 for about five pills, I was gonna find it!). Most of the medications make you a little more, um, crazy than you already are. They can blur your vision, make you sick, etc. No fun. You also have to make repeated doctor’s visits and have more ultrasounds than women do during pregnancy…it just doesn’t seem right. After all of this, you may have a procedure called an IUI (intra-uterine insemination) or an even more complex IVF (in vitro fertilization). You go through the dreaded two week wait, and then you either rejoice because it worked, or you want to lay down and die because after all that, you’re still not pregnant. And you start all over.
It is devastating spiritually because it throws you into what I call a crisis of faith. You wonder if God really does love you. Does He love so-and-so more because they received the desire of their heart without effort? Does He really hear your prayers? Are you being punished for something that you did in the past? How could such pain be a part of His plan? Did He forget about you? Many days I cried into my journal. I prayed for a pregnancy, in faith that God would grant it that next month. I couldn’t understand when it didn’t happen. Was my faith not strong enough? I can now look back and see how it did fit into His beautiful plan, but in the midst of it, “you can’t see the forest for the trees”.
It is devastating financially because infertility testing and treatment is EXPENSIVE. Most of it is out of pocket expense. Procedures are not covered by insurance…they should be. To an infertile person, their condition is just as devastating to them as heart disease, diabetes, or any other chronic illness you may think of. Some people choose not to do treatment and some do. That is their choice between them and their spouse and God. We chose after testing and talking to our reproductive endocrinologist that we would do an IUI. We did two, and after the second one failed, we chose to pursue adoption. We felt we were beating a dead horse and that our main goal was ultimately to be parents, not pregnant. Some people do many months or years of expensive treatment. I may not agree with the lengths that some go, but like I said, that is between them and their spouse and God to decide. Letting go of any dream is hard. Adoption is also very expensive and after spending money on infertility testing and treatment, it may seem unattainable. I remember when we were praying about adoption and I saw that the cost could range from $20,000-$50,000: I was speechless. We went into the adoption process with enough money only to apply, and prayed that God would provide – and He did! When we started the adoption journey, I still felt the pain of infertility although I knew adoption was God’s Plan A for us. Several people felt that I should have been over it once we decided to adopt. That may be the case for some women, but I can say that for most women who suffer from infertility and go on to adopt, the pain is still there. You experience a new kind of joy, and the pain becomes more bearable, but that wound is never fully healed.
Do you have someone in your life who is suffering from infertility and you just don’t know how to help them or reach out to them? My best advice, having been on the other side, is handle them with care and extend grace to them. Validate their feelings – let them know that you understand their pain is real and you are so sorry. Tell them you are praying for them. Don’t avoid them because you don’t know what to say. If you are close to them and you become pregnant, tell them in private and choose tender words…it will mean the world to them that you cared enough about their feelings to do so. Don’t talk about your pregnancy around them –let them bring it up (and they will bring it up if given space and time). Invite them to your baby shower because they still want to feel included, but don’t expect them to come – they may come, or they may pick out a thoughtful gift and give it to you ahead of time. Choose your words carefully (and this goes for everything in life)- use some sensitivity! Pray for them. Pray that God will rescue them from the pain they are feeling and quickly grant their desire to be a parent through whatever means He wills. Pray for peace. Pray for their emotional stability and their relationship with their husband. Send them an encouraging verse from scripture and/or a song that you heard that encouraged you. My close friend Debbie would do this for me on particularly hard days, and she also would admittedly edit her text messages before sending to be sure that they were sensitive and encouraging! There are many things I am sure she wanted to say and I probably needed a good kick in the butt some days, but she knew that would only make me feel worse and what I needed was a good friend and a shoulder to cry on. (She also brought me lidocaine alcohol swabs and Elmo bandaids and m&m candies when I had to give myself my first injection…sorry guys, she is my friend and you can’t have her!  )

What not to say:
“If you would just relax you would get pregnant.” – There are real medical reasons why you can’t conceive. It has more to do than just relaxing.
“You are under too much stress to get pregnant.” – Again, real medical reasons, and no one can completely eliminate stress from their life.
“Just adopt and you will become pregnant.” -It does NOT happen for everyone who adopts. I personally know four families who have adopted and not gone on to conceive.
“You just need to wait for God’s timing.” – There is truth in this, but not what they need to hear. They know it in their head, but they get tired of hearing it all the time.
“I knew this person who tried for ten years before she got pregnant- but it did happen!” – Not encouraging!
“So and so is pregnant- maybe you should drink the same water.” – Not funny!
“Are you sure you’re doing it right?”… and the list goes on. 

What to say:
“I love you and I am so sorry you are going through this. It’s not fair and I know it is so hard. God does have a reason for this although it is hard to understand right now. One day we will look back on this time and see what He was doing. But until then, know that I am here, I care, and I love you.”

My blessings definitely came through raindrops, my healing through tears. I grew to know Him better, my little blessings are asleep in the next room, and my newest unexpected blessing, in my now open womb. I am so thankful for the people in my life who journeyed with me and handled me with care. Please be that for someone else who is hurting…

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Home

I figured since we have been home with the boys almost a month now, I should probably update our blog! :) Truth is, I don't consider myself a "blogger"...I usually sit and stare at the computer awhile trying to figure out how to put my thoughts into writing, and I never think it's good. Also, since bringing our two little men home, I haven't had time to pee, much less blog! The boys started school yesterday and I am now finding time to clean, do laundry, wash dishes, shower, and yes...pee. So here goes an update!

On October 7th, we arrived at the Transition Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to be reunited with our precious boys. In that moment, the long wait, the agony, the tears, the sadness- it was all washed away. We were finally a family! I can't describe the joy in our hearts that day. We had longed to be parents for three years and God kept saying "wait". After meeting our boys in July and then having to leave them for three months was torture. A HUGE painful burden was lifted the day that we took them out of the transition home forever and back to our hotel. It's hard to believe that that part of the journey is over. Our 16 month adoption journey that seemed to drag on for eternity, now just a memory! We thank God for His peace that passes all understanding during those days where we thought we might not make it. If you know someone in the midst of the journey - whether it be infertility and the journey to parenthood, or the adoption journey, or both: be a voice of encouragement to them. Let them know that God has big things planned for them. Tell them they are not alone, and that they WILL make it through. Be an instrument of healing in their lives - they NEED it. Some days they will feel like they aren't going to make it through, or that they would rather not be living than to never be able to be a mother or father (it's real, folks), or that if they hear one more discouraging word about adoption or another insensitive comment they are going to lose it! Be there for them - they will be forever grateful. We are SO thankful for the people that "stuck it out" with us through the sadness and the ugliness and the "longness" (is that a word?). We couldn't have done it without you!

The boys have done really well since being home! I can't say that it has all been easy. They lost their birthfather and birthmother, and then when they gained a new mommy and daddy, they lost their friends and their country. We have worked through meltdowns...the screaming for an hour with no consolation, the refusing to try new foods and sitting at the table for three hours because Christian won't try just one bite (and we won't let him get up until he does), the trust issues, and the "I'm gonna run out the front door and down the street and make my pregnant mama chase me screaming because I'm running straight towards the main road" (our neighbors must wonder about us!). BUT we have also experienced the sweet moments at bedtime, hearing the boys sing praise and worship and ask to read their Bibles, the precious healing conversations about their birthparents, seeing trust grow and feeling like a family, their first day of school and being so proud of them, and so so many more. To know Christian and Joash is to totally love them...it's impossible not to. They have this mama's heart in a major way, and I cannot imagine life without them (nor do I remember much about life before them). They bring so much joy to every day! We have been asked "don't you want children of your own?" before and to that I sweetly (or not so sweetly) reply - they ARE MY OWN. They couldn't be more my own. I love them with every part of me. I grieve their past and am so sorry that they lost their birthfamily - we live in a broken world. I am thankful that out of that brokeness, God chose us to be their new family.

As most of you know, we are also expecting a baby, due in April! SUCH A MIRACLE and so unexpected. We found out about our pregnancy two weeks after we passed court and became legal parents of Christian and Joash. If that doesn't display that God's timing is perfect, I don't know what would! We are still in awe of God and His goodness. The boys are so excited! When we told them, they were so happy, and then they got right down to the business of asking where the baby comes out - "comes out of your mouth mommy?". LOL! Time to change the subject, boys! :) With that, I will leave you with some pictures of my two cuties!









Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our First Meeting

This is a video I made to show how special our first meeting with our boys was...enjoy!

video

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our family...

I am here to tell you that MIRACLES DO STILL HAPPEN! God is so good! We were told last Friday that we did not pass court. Courts were then closed for two months for rainy season, and all of us who didn’t pass would just have to wait until they reopened for our cases to be looked at. This was a hard pill to swallow. We didn’t pass because of a mistake on MOWCYA’s part, and then we were just out of luck. Shane and I were reeling from this information, and he is on the other side of the world. Fast forward to Monday.
I get a call from our agency saying that the courts for whatever reason had decided to stay open a few extra days, and that they would advocate for our family again to see if they could get our letter re-written. They could make no promises, and said just to pray. I have to be honest, I was struggling with prayer at this point. I had poured my heart out in anguish last week, had prayed in faith that God would move this mountain, had cried and begged, and we didn’t pass. I even called my dad on Sunday to talk to him about prayer. “Dad, why do we even pray if ultimately God is going to do what He wants anyway? I feel like He has never answered my prayers in the way that I have asked, so shouldn’t I just sit back and say ‘your will be done’?”. (I’m so glad that I have an earthly father who knows the Lord, that I can talk to when things of my heavenly father aren’t clear to me.) One of the things my daddy told me was the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11. (paraphrasing) Mary and Martha had asked Jesus to come heal their brother because he was sick. Scripture says although Jesus loved them, he stayed where he was for the next two days. In that time, Lazarus died and was buried. Jesus then came to Bethany, and Martha met with him and basically said – if you had been here, this wouldn’t have happened. Shortly after, Jesus went to Lazarus’ grave and said “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” He then raised Lazarus from the dead, and many people believed because of it. That story really encouraged me these last two days before we got the news today. We don’t tell God what to do. We can pray and ask, but sometimes God doesn’t answer the way we want, because He knows that His name will be praised and spread further if He waits, and His mighty power can be shown. Well, He really showed His mighty power today. Courts shouldn’t have stayed open these last few days, but God made it happen. He worked a miracle for us and for our boys, and MAY HIS NAME BE PRAISED.
Enjoy the pictures of our first meeting with our boys…Christian Abiti Somers and Joash Negalegn Somers...WE PASSED COURT!!!
















































Friday, August 5, 2011

These past few days...

So I don't have a lot left in me to write, and I'm still processing everything from this week, so bear with me. On Wednesday, I was sitting at our kitchen table with a friend who was showing me an awesome reading program to do with the boys...the phone rings and it's AWAA. I answered with excitement because we were waiting to hear if we passed court by Friday, and it was early. It was our family coordinator, and she told me that MOWCYA had written a recommendation letter to the courts, but that it was unfavorable. She said that they had overlooked our homestudy update...that was there the whole time. She continued to say that there were two days left for them to subpoena the new corrected letter, MOWCYA to get it written, and for it to get hand delivered to the court by close of business Friday. She said it was totally possible for this to all happen, and to be praying. It hurt so bad to know that we could suffer because of a silly mistake, but we were still hopeful. We also heard a few hours later that all of our friends in our traveling group had passed...we were so happy for them, but that hurt too.

Fast forward through two days of intense anxiety, lots of desperate prayers, and frail hope. We waited all morning for news (me here, and Shane in Romania). We got an email from our agency at 2:00 saying that they were still working on wrapping things up in Ethiopia, and they would give us news as soon as possible. The call finally came at 2:47, and was to inform us that "unfortunately, you did not pass today". Hopes and prayers for a miracle...crushed. They said that the letter was never re-written. (What the heck have they been doing over there the past two days?!)MOWCYA will still be writing letters over the court closure, so we should pass as soon as courts re-open, which isn't until the end of September/early October. I can't get my hopes up over anything anymore. We have had so much bad news over this process. One day soon I will have renewed hope, but not today. So many unanswered questions about what transpired over there this week in reference to our paperwork - answers we will never get.

One thing I do know, God is still good and still on the throne. This is not a surprise to Him. From my human perspective, there is no good that could come out of this. The boys suffer, we suffer, those around us suffer. But from God's viewpoint, I know there has to be a good reason for this. This is all I can say for now.

"Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest." Psalm 126:5-6 I'm cryin' now, but boy will I be a-singin' when I finally return with my boys...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Shower

Our church is having an adoption shower for us tomorrow, and we are so excited! It will be an awesome celebration of the boys. I wish that they could be there for it, but I know that it would probably be extremely overwhelming for them. They have no idea how loved they are! We are blessed to have a church family that loves these boys so much without having met them. We are so thankful for their support and love. We are looking forward to celebrating the boys tomorrow and being able to show some pictures! We haven't passed court yet so we cannot post pics online or through slideshow or anything, but we do have a beautiful picture book that was made for us with pictures of our trip that we will bring. Hope to see you there! :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Language Barrier

So Noelle had asked about the language barrier that will be present between us and the boys, and it's an excellent question! Our boys speak Amharic, the official working language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. We know about five Amharic words which include how to say soccer goalie, dog, car, good, ...and butt. Our boys can speak more English than we can Amharic, and they are currently working on learning more as they wait for us to return for them. They can say I love you, mom and dad, come on, happy, soccer, play, eat, hungry, and many other words that I just cannot recall right now.
Each day that we were there, they remembered words we had taught them from the previous day. We were so proud of them! They are eager to learn, and they retain so much. We made use of hand signals when we needed to to get by, and it seemed to help. The language barrier will present some complications for us all in the beginning, as we could already tell from our time there with them. The hardest part was when the boys got into an argument, and we couldn't communicate with them to find out who was at fault, what happened, etc. Thankfully, several of the men on staff at America World were able to step in and help, to which I asked "Can you please come to the states with us too??". They were lifesavers. We also had a funny instance one day which had me temporarly panicking! N spotted a cat and said "mom - cat eat!" as he was rubbing his belly. I yelled over to Shane, "Babe, do they eat cats here? Please tell me they do not eat cats here!". N said again "Mom - cat! Eat!", but he was rubbing his belly this time with a sympathetic look on his face. I then realized that he was trying to tell me that the cat was hungry and needed to eat. Phew! He has sympathy for the cat, not desire to eat.
We are working on English/Amharic flashcards already which will help us to communicate with the boys during travel home, and we also have some English first words flashcards we will go through. A friend at church who is a teacher also has an online program she is going to go through with us that will help the boys a lot. They can see the words and hear the pronunciation of them, etc. We of course are nervous about the language barrier, but mostly because we want them to be able to communicate their needs to us. In many ways, it will be like having newborn babies who cannot tell you what they need, except for our boys will hopefully at least be able to show us. They are young, and we are confident they will learn quickly. Add that to your prayer lists! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Details!

I'm incredibly sorry that it has taken me so long to post! We were so busy while we were in Ethiopia, and then we pretty much went straight to summer camp with the teens once we got back! To sum up our trip to meet our boys, it was the best week of our lives and also the worst week of our lives.

It was the best week because we got to meet our kids for the first time! Our first meeting was precious. Our hearts were racing as we waited on the front porch of the transition home for them to bring the boys out. We could hear them coming down the hall, and as they caught sight of us, little N started running and squealing and jumped up into my arms. A went straight to Shane and hugged him, and then we switched. I will never forget how I felt as I held each of my children for the first time. I got to hold them, kiss them, study their faces, pick them up, and show them the love that our hearts had already felt long before our face to face meeting. We also were called "mom" and "dad" for the first time. In that moment, every step of our long journey became worth it.

I can't wait for everyone to meet them and see their personalities! N is hilarious! He makes really funny faces, says funny things, sings funny songs, wears his socks up to his knees, and marches around sticking his belly out. He cracked us up the whole time! He has the best giggles too. A is super amazing at soccer! He is also a thinker and a very old soul. He loves God SO much. We asked if he would show us some traditional dance, and his nanny interpreted that he said in response "no- I only sing songs of God now". I took his clothes one night back to our place to wash them, and in his pocket I found the first letter we had sent them. It was all folded up, and on the outside he had written "dad" and "mum". He wants to be a pastor when he grows up. Our sons might look different from us, but they are totally our sons in every way!

We spent most of our time at the baby transition home with the boys, but we did get to walk down the street one afternoon with the boys to the older child home where they live. We took pictures of their beds and their room...it was sad. Eight children sleeping in a like 10x10 room, nothing on the walls, and pathetic pillows (in which A had hidden several items). They have lived that way their whole lives so it's no big deal to them, but it was sad to us.

We got to meet with the boys and the child psychologist on staff there. He is so great and we are blessed that he has been a part of their lives! They have a great relationship with him, and I know that he has been instrumental in helping them to process everything going on in their lives. We had him ask the boys if they were happy, and they both said they are very happy. They know they are moving to Florida and can point it out on the map. We had him explain to them that they could keep their Ethiopian names if they wanted to, or they could choose American names. They both wanted American names, and A said he wanted his to be "Florida". :) We told him he wouldn't want to be named that! We let them look at a list of names and their meanings that we had chosen. A picked the name that I knew he would pick because of it's meaning. He chose the name Christian- "follower of Christ". N picked the name Joash- "given by the Lord". Their names are perfect.

We had our court date on July 13th. We went in knowing that we would not pass unless by miracle. The MOWCYA is twenty days behind on approval letters, so no families are currently passing the first time. Right now we are just waiting and praying! We need to pass court by the time rainy season starts over there (August 7th) because court closes down for like two months I believe. If we don't pass before then, it means we cannot be a family for at least 3-4 more months. We are hopeful that the Lord will intervene, and that we will have that letter very soon! Please join us in praying! It is in the best interest of the boys that we go get them soon. We are a family and we need to be together!

So earlier in the post I said that it was the worst week of our lives too, right? Well, that was because of having to leave our boys. We had asked if we could meet with the psychologist again on the last day so that he could reassure them that we loved them so much, that we are a family, and that we would be coming back for them very very soon. Christian A. started crying first, then me, then Joash N., then Shane. Our hearts were breaking. We asked the boys if they had any questions, and Christian A. said that he just wanted us to know that he loved us so much. We tried the rest of the afternoon to just have fun with the boys, but we were all pretty somber. Joash was able to laugh and play with Shane a little, but I just sat and held Christian. He kept looking at Shane's watch he was wearing, and then when the van pulled in to pick us up, he went and sat under a bush and sobbed. We said our goodbyes, squeezed them both, and told them how much we loved them, and then we got in the van and left. We were all four crying. Heartbreaking. I will never forget their faces as we pulled out of the drive.
On a happy note, our reunion is going to be so so sweet and we will be a forever family next time.

We were singing "Great is Thy Faithfulness" at church this morning, and I could totally relate to a line of it..."strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with ten thousand beside. Great is they faithfulness!" We live each day being apart from them with His strength, and we have bright hope for our "tomorrow"!

There are so many more details of our trip that I would love to share, but some just too personal to put out on the world wide web. We would love to show you pictures in person and give you more details of the trip...we always love talking about our boys. :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Overwhelmed

I was just looking at pictures of my boys opening up the care package we sent them, and a tidal wave of emotion came over me. I just had to stop and say "Thank you, God". That was enough - God already knows what my heart is feeling! I thank Him for being sovereign, for having a much better plan for our lives than we had for ourselves, for giving us "blessings through raindrops", and for A and N who have already changed our lives forever!
They are BEAUTIFUL! They have the most amazing smiles and dimples. They have so much joy for two little guys who have been through so much. I wish that I could post pictures! Please pray for us as we travel to Ethiopia next week. Pray for safe travels, for us to stay healthy, that we will have an amazing time with our boys just being a family, and that we will pass court the first time. Only 50% of families pass the first time. The longer it takes us to pass, the longer we have to be away from our boys. Please also pray for their little hearts and minds - so much for them to process.
We will try to post while we are in Ethiopia next week - should have internet access where we are staying. Keep us in your prayers!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Court Date!

We got a call today from our travel coordinator...our court date is set for July 13th, 2011! We will get to officially meet our boys in around four weeks!!! *Sigh of relief.* To say that we are excited would be the understatement of the century. :) Will keep everyone updated as to when we will actually be leaving for Africa, etc.

This last week has held a lot of joy for us. Last Wednesday our friend and worship pastor, Jason, spoke in church about "holding on to the dreams that are holding on to you", and asked if we would share our story from beginning to now. I don't do public speaking, so Shane shared. He started from when we first decided we wanted to start a family, to infertility/treatment, to infant adoption, to now older child adoption. It was incredibly cleansing and freeing to hear our story out loud amongst those who love and support us at our church. At the end, Shane shared our great news about our boys, and then Pastor Danny had a special prayer for our boys and the adoption, as those closest to us laid hands on us. Praise the Lord! There were lots of tears and hugs. It was a special night that we will never forget!

We also joined our adoption agency's Yahoo chat group for families that are adopting from Ethiopia. We have heard from several families that have met and spent time with our sons when they have been over there with their children! It has been amazing to be connected with these families and hear cute little stories about our boys! Our oldest is apparently very good at soccer, has amazing dimples, and smiles all the time! Our littlest is a little trickster, loves to hold hands, and also smiles all the time. SO looking forward to having stories of our own to share next month. :)

We have been asked by a couple of people if there is a tax-deductible way that they can help financially. We are so incredibly grateful! We have an account set up at our church for the adoption. Any checks can be sent to:

Eastpoint Fellowship
15060 Old Cheney Hwy
Orlando, FL 32828

Please remember to mark in the memo line that it is for "Shane and Summer Somers-adoption."
Thank you so much!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

BIG news!

So if you read our last post from April, you would understand that our hearts were pretty sad. After the infertility battle and then so many changes with the adoption, it felt like we would never get good news! We knew in our hearts though that God had something so much greater for us as a family, and that good news had to be right around the bend!

Truth is, when I wrote that post, God was already working on something. He had started working on our hearts several weeks before and was asking us to do something big! We were just in the middle of praying and struggling - we wanted to make the right decision and not an emotional decision. The possibility was exciting and terrifying all at the same time! Were we to put the infant adoption (that seemed to get further and further away)on hold and pursue this new path of becoming parents?

In the end of March, we got an email from our adoption agency encouraging all families to take a look at the waiting children list. This list is password protected and holds pictures and bios of children who are older and less likely to be adopted. Shane and I were in different rooms when we got the email and looked at the list. We would later that day discover that God had tugged at both of our hearts with a certain picture/bio. I had immediately fallen in love, and asked God to please give them a good family right away if they weren't supposed to be a part of our family. I wanted more info, but was scared and confused at the prospect of changing our adoption from infant to older child. We decided we would pray and have our parents to pray with us for wisdom. We felt Him push us to take the next step. It took four weeks to get the info because our agency had some holes in their info and wanted to make sure everything was entire and accurate. They were at the mercy of the staff in Africa to get the updated information, and it took like what seemed an eternity! Once we got the information, we spent time pouring over it and having a doctor look at it. We spent more time in prayer and asking questions... and then we officially accepted the referral for two beautiful boys...elementary age, biological brothers,beautiful.

The week after we accepted the referral, our family coordinator sent us an email. She said that the boys had been sat down and told about us, and that they were "ecstatic". They took our pictures that had been cut out of our paperwork, and ran around the transition home showing everyone their new mommy and daddy! She said that they had waited so long. I'm sure they had had friends come and go with their new families, and wondered when it was their turn. Thank you Lord for setting the lonely in families! Thank you for choosing us to be their parents!

We couldn't be happier! My heart is so full, sometimes I feel like it could explode. Our days are spent now getting together a care package to send to our sons filled with outfits and 'Cars' flip flops and pictures and toys :) We are looking for bunk beds, and painting a room, and trying to figure what to do for school next year. Shane is on a Disney movie kick, making sure our boys have the movies that are out before "they go back in the vault"! :)We have soccer balls and nerf guns...but most of all we have SO MUCH love to give. We get to be parents...Praise the Lord.

I can't get a particular song out of my head by Laura Story. Some of the lyrics are as follows:
"We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise"

Amen.

Pray for us as we are waiting for a court date! Also pray that we will be able to raise the extra funds necessary to fly two boys home from Africa (estimated extra cost above what God has provided over the last year is $7,500). Pray that our boys will be safe and healthy, and that we will be able to bond quickly, even through our care package. We unfortunately cannot post names or pictures until we pass court, but we will keep everyone updated on travel, etc. through this blog.

Thank you for your prayers and support! We love you all!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Monday, May 9th



(today) Saturday, May 14th

Monday, April 25, 2011

Several weeks ago at the end of a Sunday morning service, Pastor Danny annointed us with oil and prayed over us. People close to us laid hands on us and prayed as he prayed. He prayed that God would give us a child soon - whether through our adoption going through quickly, or through a pregnancy. Well, since then several other couples in our church have gotten pregnant... but not us. We also have heard no new news on the adoption. Tough stuff to understand. I heard God whisper to my heart this morning, "I have something better for you". Wow. Not that what He has for us is better than anyone else, just better for us as a couple.
God, I know your ways are better than my ways, and your plans are better than my plans. Help us as we try to be happy for everyone else, and wait on what you have for us, because we want what you want. Amen *tears

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hope

Since my last post (where I had planted sunflowers and they were destroyed in a storm), we have planted a full garden. It is extremely therapeutic! I would encourage anyone who is going through something emotionally difficult to plant something. There is something about planting a tiny seedling and seeing a green sprout pop through the soil that puts a smile in your heart. Shane built an above ground garden bed and then we planted together tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers, cilantro, and basil. I had already re-planted some sunflowers in little pots and then transplanted them to the front of our house when they got too big for the pots.












Many of you have asked us if we have gotten any new news yet. Right now our agency is telling us that we will just have to see how things play out over the next couple of months. (Blah) Referrals are still being given and families are passing court, but they just don't know yet if wait times are going to increase for those of us without referrals yet. Keep praying!
Our garden is growing, and with that our hope.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So, my sunflower plants were completely washed away in a horrible storm while we were out of town last week, and then symbolically with that my hope was washed away today when we read this:

Ethiopia
April 5, 2011
Notice: Significant delays remain likely for cases presented
to Ethiopia's Ministry of Women, Children and Youth
Affairs after March 8, 2011
"The Government of Ethiopia's Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MOWYCA)
told the American Embassy officials that adoption cases presented to the Federal Court of First
Instance prior to March 8, 2011 will be processed expeditiously. However, cases presented to the
Court after March 8 will be processed in a more deliberate manner to allow greater scrutiny and
oversight. Based on their March 8 announcement the American Embassy anticipates that
MOWYCA will process these cases at a rate of approximately 5 per day.
It is unclear whether there will be an official announcement from the Government of Ethiopia
regarding the plan to reduce the number of cases adjudicated daily.
Prospective adoptive parents who did not reach the court summons stage before March 8, 2011,
should expect significant delays in the progression of their paperwork through the Government
of Ethiopia. Prospective adoptive parents should be in close touch with their adoption service
providers to confirm the status of their cases.
The U.S. Embassy continues to work with Ethiopian government officials and adoption agencies
to gain a clearer understanding of these procedures, and will continue to post information as it
becomes available.
The Embassy's Adoptions Unit can be reached at consadoptionaddis@state.gov.
Please continue to monitor http://adoption.state.gov for updated information as it becomes
available."

Please pray for our hearts...how much hurt can one take? We have been through this cycle of hurt-pain-hope, hurt-pain-hope over and over in the last 2-3 years.

Re-planted my sunflowers yesterday, and praying that as they grow, so does our hope.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We are now 3 months post DTE day! The typical referral wait (before the proposed changes in Ethiopia) was 5-8 months for a baby boy. We are excited that three months have passed already, but we are really trying to enjoy our time together to the fullest. We want to hold our baby boy so badly, but we don't want to wish the remainder of our "just the two of us" time away. I have taken up scrapbooking - something I never thought I would enjoy or be good at! I'm not very crafty, which is odd because my mom is super-crafty! I am working on our "While We Waited For You" scrapbook, which will chronicle all the stuff we did in the wait.
Here are two of the pages I have done so far of our trip to Chicago:





I also planted some sunflower seeds two days ago. I love sunflowers! Once they grow out of their tiny pots, I am going to transplant them by our back fence. They will be a beautiful reminder later of our wait and how far we have come. I am amazed by God and how He makes things grow - in just two days, my little plants have already sprouted! Reminds me of the hope He keeps planting in my heart and allowing to grow. God is so good, and His mercies are new every morning!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Update

We're so sorry it has taken us several weeks to post on here about the changes in Ethiopia. At first it was just painful to think about or talk about for us. More recently, it has just been because of lack of information! Basically, on March 10th (Shane's birthday), the Ministry of Women's and Children Affairs (MOWA) in Ethiopia announced that they were cutting the amount of approval letters they write (which a family has to have in order to pass court and bring your child home) by 90%. When I first heard the news, this basically translated in my mind as "you will not bring your son home for years". We were shocked at this sudden and drastic change, and felt like our dreams of meeting our son this year had been crushed. We were also extremely saddened at how this would effect all of the orphans in Ethiopia who would, in essence, stay orphans for longer. We have not heard a whole lot of information over the last couple of weeks, but what little we have heard has seemed positive and encouraging. There are a lot of people working on behalf of the orphans and waiting families, and we firmly believe that God is going to turn this situation around. He loves orphans way more than any of us do, and "He sets the lonely in families". Continue to pray with us as we trust and wait. To stay updated on the situation, or to find out more information about the situation in general, you can follow posts on http://www.jointcouncil.org/, and for updates specific to our adoption agency, follow their blog at http://adoptedbydesign.typepad.com/.

A lot of people have asked us if any of this changes our plan to continue to adopt from Ethiopia... ABSOLUTELY NOT. God asked us to adopt from Ethiopia, we love our child/ren in Ethiopia, and our lives would be impoverished without them. We are yet to be all that God has created us to be as a family, and the effort it takes to move forward is worth it. "Well, you'll get pregnant now- everyone who plans to adopt ends up getting pregnant!" One, that's not true. Not everyone who adopts ends up getting pregnant and having biological children. Two, whereas obviously we would be overjoyed with a pregnancy, we would still adopt children from Ethiopia. Our adoption was not a back-up plan or a whim, but a choice and an anwswer to God's calling on our lives. Thank you for following this (crazy) journey with us!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We are just a little over one week away from being two months into our waiting time! We have so much to be thankful for! Since our last post, we have seen God do more miracles in our lives through this adoption. He has affirmed and re-affirmed that this is His plan for us! We are struggling of course with the wait time. There is an empty place in our hearts and home. Some days we wonder if it's for real! For a pregnant woman, they see the physical growth and progression and know when the end is when they will get to see their beautiful baby! For adoptive parents, we only have a general idea of when, and pray that there are no setbacks, country closings, etc. to stand in the way of meeting our beautiful baby. Please continue to pray for us emotionally as we await what is going to be one of the greatest days of our lives!
We are blown away by how God has provided money for the adoption. When we first started the process, we had little to no savings. We had already spent several thousand on infertility treatments before we felt Him lead in this direction.It has been a constant daily choice on my part to give it up to God. My morning prayers over the last nine months usually have consisted of "God, I know you asked us to do this and this is your plan to build our family, so I'm asking for a miracle. I am trusting you completely to bring in every penny, and I can't wait to see how you do it!".It has truly been amazing to see His hand at work. Through jewelry parties, yard sales, our tax return, scrimping and saving,and donations from friends and family (and even through people we don't know!), as of a few weeks ago we were pretty close to meeting our goal of $16,000. We have already paid around $13,000 and the adoption can total between $25-30,000. Two Sundays ago, Shane was giving a report to our church in second service about how God has supplied almost everything we need, and that we were just about $1-2,000 away. We invited everyone to come out to Chic-Fil-A on February 19th to participate in a Family Night fundraiser to help with the remaining costs...
After the service (a man whom neither Shane nor I had met) handed Shane an envelope with $1,000 cash in it and said that it was for our adoption, and not to mention his name to anyone. WOW. I met him this past Sunday, but I still believe that he is an angel! God must've told him to take that money, not knowing what it was for, and once Shane spoke God touched his heart. I am so blessed by his generosity, his obedience to God, his heart for adoption, and his humility.
This is just one of the miracles God has performed in our lives this past year! Pray for us as we continue to fundraise in obedience, knowing that God will bless. We have the fundraiser this Saturday night, and then a yard sale in March. We will continue to raise, as the price of flights can dramatically increase and other unexpected expenses can arise.
God has also really been working us over about Africa. We both feel passionately about reaching the lost and hurting of Africa! Sunday in church after praise and worship time, Shane wrote a note to me on his bulletin- "I feel restless. All I could see while we were singing was a crowd of African people singing in worship". My heart is burdened for the children over there who contract HIV during birth. If not adopted, they WILL die. We don't know what to do with all of this passion or how God is going to use us there in the future, but we are willing. We will hopefully get to stay over in Kenya for a few weeks with some missionaries (who are there with Campus Crusade)after our first trip over to Ethiopia.
What is God burdening your heart for? Do you have room in your heart and home for an orphaned child? Can you give some of the money you have been blessed with to a christian organization that builds wells in a country that has no clean drinking water so that they can also hear about the Living Water and "thirst no more"? Is He asking you to go on a short-term mission trip, or give to someone who is? When giving to the Lord's work, it's not a matter of should I give, but yet a matter of how much. If God has burdened your heart for adoption, don't let money stand in the way. He CAN and WILL provide - we are a living testament! If you ever have any questions about adoption or the process, please contact us!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Today we are officially one month into the waiting process! Our dossier is now in Ethiopia in the right hands, so we just pray that they find our little one soon. We are so excited to be done with what's called the "paper chase", and now in the waiting phase...although the waiting is tough! We have been busying ourselves with painting his room and getting things ready which has been fun. We are trying to pace ourselves though so that we don't run out of baby projects before we have a baby! It seems to make the waiting easier to have things to do. You may find us wandering aimlessly around Babies R US just looking at things, but I'm thinking that's probably normal, right? :)

I love to read, and I just started a new book called One Million Arrows (Raising your children to change the world) by Julie Ferwerda. I would encourage anyone who is a parent, is expecting a child, or wants to be a parent in the future to read this book! I have only read the first five chapters, but so far it talks about how it is nobody's responsibility to raise our children but our own - not the pastor, youth pastor, teacher, or sunday school teacher. We have a very short window of time to impact our children's lives for eternity, and we must be intentional about it. I want to raise a world changer! In chapter 5, the author quotes a (famous) father:

"If I could get my kids to the age of twenty-five knowing and serving God, and having character that pleases God, then I knew God would be happy and I would be happy. The only way I could do that was to do it myself - commit to God that this is my job. Our goals weren't just typical goals. I tried to give him a vision early that if he worked hard and became a successful quarterback, he would have an amazing platform for Christ." - Bob Tebow

A few of the principals that the Tebows employed in their parenting were teaching them to memorize scripture daily, encouraging them to pick heroes who modeled good character such as humility, teaching them at an early age to care about the problems and needs of others, and using smaller problems to teach them how to deal with bigger ones. I think they did a pretty good job, don't you?

Sunday, January 9, 2011




Me and my mom with all the babies on New Year's Eve. Can't wait until Silas can be a part of these pictures!

"Why aren't you adopting a child from the U.S.?"

"Why aren't you adopting a child in the US?" is a question that we have been asked many times over the last seven months. Some just out of curiosity, and some out of disagreement in our choice. Maybe many of you have wondered "why Ethiopia" yourselves. First of all, I will start by saying that an orphaned child is an orphaned child no matter where they are located in the world. The issue shouldn't be the where, but instead the why [are there so many orphans]. Second, we should guard ourselves against an "us and them" mentality. We are all created and loved by God. The United States and Ethiopia are very different countries located on different continents, but we are all part of the human race and this big and wonderful world that God created! Third of all, if we all just adopted within our own countries, the children of Africa would be without hope. Most of these children are orphaned because of the AIDS crisis and poverty. They may have extended family members who they could go to live with, but most of these family members cannot afford to take care of another child, leaving them orphaned. Furthermore, God told us to adopt from Ethiopia, so we are. You don't argue with God!
God has put such a love in our hearts for Africa. My heart is burdened for Africa. On top of the millions dying of AIDS over there, there are also people dying by the hundreds of thousands of curable diseases (such as malaria and tuberculosis). They need clean drinking water, they need better medical care, they need health education and prevention, they need they need they need! Be praying about how you can be Jesus to the people of Africa. We are praying about ways that God can use us now, as well as how God can use me there once I finish getting my R.N. degree. Children get bit by mosquitos in their sleep and contract malaria - buy a mosquito net for a family for $18 and save a life, or purchase seeds so that they can grow food for their family(Worldvision.org). Ask God to show you how you can help.
"When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. We have refused to be instruments of love in the hands of God to give the poor a piece of bread, to offer them a dress with which to ward off the cold. It has happened because we did not recognize Christ when, once more, he appeared under the guise of pain, identified with a man numb from the cold, dying of hunger; when he came in a lonely human being, in a lost child in search of a home." -Mother Teresa