Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I am asked this frequently. It might be because our darling boy is called several names by different family members. Abenezer. Aben. Baby Brother Ben.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The first time I saw it was Sunday evening at Subway. It was tattooed on the base of the manager's neck. Black. Cursive. 1-2" letters. He had lots of tattoos, but I took note of the single word.
While shopping at Lifeway Bookstore on Monday evening, I was flipping through prayer and memory verse books when my eyes caught the words: The Hidden Treasure and the Pearl. Snagged. I scanned the top of the page and read: Parables of Jesus.
Half way through the morning on Tuesday, I opened my email and found the Proverbs 31 devotional of the day. The title said it all: The Pearl's Price. This was the third reference to pearl in three days. I started to pay attention.
"When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!" Matthew 13:46 (NLT)
Rachel Olsen, the author of the devotional, gave an application step, a pray and ponder step. "What do you know Jesus has been asking you to do that you haven't done? Make the effort and do it. Pay the Pearl's price."
I think this is my message.
What have I been asking you to do, Danielle, that you haven't done?
I can't answer the question. Of course, it's not because I have done all that He's asked. If that were true I'd be . . . . Well, that's for God and me to discuss.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I didn't stop you today to tell you that your hair looked really cute but your stylish shirt was inside out. I thought it might make you feel worse. What could you do about your clothing mishap in the middle of Costco with your husband and three kids in tow anyway? I feel like you look. You're wearing the BUSY MOM label. You reminded me of my trip to Austin a little over a week ago when I stopped my moving car to discover the styrofoam cup of tea was still on my bumper. The container of Gerber puffs had taken a nose dive and was rolling across the intersection. I was too safe of a driver to get out of the car and run after it, or was it pride?. Needless to say, I was a little preoccupied with the screaming child in the car seat behind me. It is quite a distance to leap from one toddler to two and a family of three to four. I am learning that getting ready can be done in 10 minutes, you just might not look as put together; and clothing mishaps aren't devastating in the big scheme of things.
Please don't let me wander on like a did to the lady in Costco. Just pat me on the back and whisper in my ear if I do something really crazy or forgetful during these weeks of transition. I am a work in progress. Thankfully, God's not finished with me yet. All of your kind words, hugs, and acts of service have kept me afloat.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Naturally, once through my front door, I was ready to get in bed and sleep off the 8 hour time zone delay. However, Joshua was ready to play and love on mommy and daddy. Around 12 midnight, I woke up in Joshua's bed (something I never do), recalling Joshua's resistance to sleep earlier in the evening. I went back to bed, my bed. Around 2 am, Joshua came running into our room, probably to make sure we hadn't left again. I put him back to bed. Around 3 am, Abenezer began to cry which quickly turned into wailing. He was up for good this time. After I conceded to a loss of sleep, I picked up a tearful little boy out of his crib. Tears turned to smiles and laughter as we played downstairs from 3 until 8:30 am. Around 8:30 he finally took a nap. By that time, Joshua was ready for mommy time and Keith had left for work. Amazingly, I didn't cry. I think it was because I had been there before. Ground Zero: Exhausted: Nothing Left: Reminders of being a new mom. Can anyone relate?? The only reason I kept it all in perspective throughout the first day was because God answered prayers and kept me afloat. Abenezer woke up from his nap screaming and crying. He was scared to death of this new place and terrified of our 7 lb yorkies. The first day was long. My mom and dad picked up Joshua around 11 and kept him until late afternoon. I caught an incredible nap when Abenezer took his second nap of the day.
The second night was much better. All the Pattesons slept until after 5 am, the young and younger and youngest. Tonight, I am hoping to sleep through the evening until 6am. The transition has been tough, but I am thankful for the change. I've learned that God has the greatest opportunity to work on me when I step out of my comfort zone. I don't even have my shadow in my comfort zone tonight. :0)
Exciting changes so far:
1) Abenezer switched over from formula (yes, at 16 mos!) to 2% milk without blinking an eye.
2) He flashes his charming smile far more often and we're catching glimpses of his fun personality.
3) He doesn't melt into tears and hysteria when a dog enters the room. MAJOR IMPROVEMENT
4) Joshua loves his new role as Big Brother. He's taking it very seriously.
Looking forward to another night's rest-
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Since the internet is still working, I am going to continue to update everyone reading the blog.
Wednesday, July 7th: Embassy Date
6:00 am Abenezer woke up, right on TH schedule
7:45 Breakfast at Yebsabi
8:35- 11:45 US Embassy with the Hemmingsens, Poseys and Steffenhagens
12:15 Returned to the Guest House
12:45- 1:15 Attempted a restaurant lunch unsuccessfully, Abenezer wasn;t interested
2:30 Visited Kid's Care to deliver donations
3:30 Returned to the Transition Home to see the Doctor
4:30- bedtime Yebsabi Guest House
Our date at the US Embassy was smooth and uneventful. We waited for over 2 hours for a 4 minute interview with a woman behind the glass, teller style. I am so thankful to God that it was a simple and successful trip. Abenezer fell asleep in my arms while we waited to be called. It made the wait easier. Keith and I and the other couples should receive our US visas for our children on Friday before returning to the States.
Please pray for Abenezer. He is wheezing a lot, especially at night. Keith is concerned because he doesn't have the tools and medicine to properly diagnose him and medicate him. It sounds like asthma mixed with a viral infection. Abenezer is sleeping well through the nights and for naps, but he sounds awful which keeps his parents up. We are tired.
We are scehduled to travel to Abenezer's home town and meet with his birth father. This has been a hard decision to make because it is so far. Pray that we make the right decision. Abenezer will stay at the Guest House with a nanny while we are gone.
8:30 Breakfast at Yebsabi Guest House
10:3o-12:30 Shopping at the square
12:30-1:30 Lunch @ Lucy's restaurant
2:00-4:00 Gotcha Day... Photos and care packages for other families, Donations, Goodbyes to Nannies, Brought Abenezer with us (at last)
4:30 Supermarket trip
5:00 Back to the Guest House
6:25 First Pharmacy Visit
6:45 First dinner with Abenezer at the Guest House
7:45 First bath time and bedtime routine
8:30 Betime for Abenezer, his first night away from the Transition Hom in over ten months.
I have been dreaming about this day for a long time. On the other hand, Chaltu, one of Abenezer's nannies, has been putting this day from her mind. Keith and I finally stepped onto the van with Abenezer and left the Transition Home for good. It was terrible hard to say goodbye especially for Chaltu and Abenezer. Our little on has been loved on as if he were family to Chaltu, the other nannies, and the gate guard. "Mesgana!, "they all call him. His smile can light up a room. He loves everyone and engages them.
His sweet nanny, one assigned to the toddler room and not just "Mesgana," gave him a gift as they parted. This is not common, and I don't want to get her in trouble. However, I would like to document it. We took her photo with Abenezer followed by a photo of all four of us. This is a woman to be remembered and praised. I want Abenezer to know about her as he grows older. She loves him so dearly. He began to cry when we walked by his toddler room window and get in the car. I think he caught sight of her standing near the window. She stepped back into the room, but stayed close enough to capture his every breath goodbye. He cried. She cried. I cried. I think he understood that he was leaving.
Ultimately, he will be better off in our home. Loved individually with a forever family. He will have opportunities not possible as an orphan, an education, more medical attention. God did not intend for children to live apart from families.
I am so excited to return home and begin the transition period with Joshua. Anxious, but excited.
Monday, July 5th
8:30: Breakfast at the Yebsabi Guest House with the Hemmingsens, Boddies and Steffenhagens
9:30- 1:00: Meeting at the Addis Ababa Hilton for embassy paperwork and lunch
1:30- 4:00: "Metcha Day" @ AWAA Transition Home
4:30- 7:00: Boston Spa: Massage and Pedicure, yes, really
7:45-10:00: Dinner and Entertainment: traditional Ethiopian music, singing and dancing
10:30: Back at Yebsabi Guest House to separate donations, prepare nanny gifts, and get ready for Abenezer
Incredible! This day went much better than I had prepared myself for.The first picture is of Keith's first meeting. The nanny is Chaltu. Abenezer still didn't want to leave his nanny's arms, but he didn't cling to her as badly this time. He did cry again when we first held him. Unlike last time, he quickly calmed down and settled into my arms. Within about five minutes, he fell asleep and slept through most of our visit. Keith wasn't able to see much of his personality, but he was able to see that Abenezer is so loved at the Transition Home.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
It was hard to leave Joshua this morning as he asked if he was going to Ethiopia. Thankfully, his grandparents have saved the day. They are loving on him all week. I wonder how many times he'll convince them to take him to the "train store."
Next stop: Addis Ababa
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Boy and Girl Clothes
A Baby Bouncer
We also have the priviledge of taking care packages for other AWAA families that are waiitng for court dates or embassy clearance. These families have lovingly put together clothes, pictures, and toys for their babies and kids while they wait to be united. The Sullivans kindly delivered your one and only care package in May. That's when we discovered that you are walking! I am so thankful that I'll see you in a few short days. I wonder how you've changed. Your daddy is exctied beyond words to hold your little hand and gaze in to your big brown eyes.
As for now, rest well. I am thinking about you as I pack.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Hopefully, this will shed some light on what families can expect. Disclaimer: One thing I have learned in this adoption process is that change is guaranteed. AMEN! I'll share my experience, but it might not take the mystery out of court. Thankfully, the Ancient of Days is always ruling in the heavenlies.
My court date was scheduled for Monday, May 31st, 2010. No specific time. "Sometime in the morning," I was told. T, my AWAA guide and now friend, shared, "We will wait at the Guest House for a phone call around 9:30, and if they are ready, we will head to the court building." I was given the option to walk or drive to court. Knowing it was a short distance from the Guest House, I chose to walk. For me it was a great choice. I had so much nervous energy that the walk was needed to clear my thoughts and burn off the nervousness. After about 5 minutes, T and I entered the court building. The elevator was out of use so we hiked up three flights of stairs (or was it 2?). There were many Ethiopians waiting in a sitting room, and a line zigzaged through the hallway. T found the representative from the orphange, Kingdom Vision, where Abenezer was originally placed. I thought we were in for a long, hour-or-more wait based on the number of people waiting. After about 20 minutes, we were called past all of the people into a small room. The judge was ready for us.
She sat behind a desk at one end of the office. Chairs lined the 2 other walls of the office. I sat near the judge. Abenezer's biological father sat next to me. T and the Kingdom Vision representative were also in the room. The judge didn't have a gavel or wear a robe. She was dressed in a head covering, skirt, and shirt. I wore slacks, a blouse, cotton jacket and flats.
The judge spoke in amharic and english. She asked Abenezer's biological father several questions. Nothing was translated. She then switched to english and asked me a series of questions.
"Why are you adopting? Why did you chose Ethiopia? Do you plan on having other children? How have you prepared yourself for transracial adoption? Have you had training on transracial adoption?" I tried to be as straight forward and brief with my answers, so as not to give the judge any reason to question me further. After the questions, she said everything was in place and now we would wait. The four of us stood and walked out of the court room and into the crowded waiting room, thankful it was over. Abenezer's biological father was willing to talk, so we headed downstairs to a "cafe" in the building's parking lot. I'll share about this incredible meeting in another post.
I didn't know until later that Duni and the AWAA court attorney would still meet with the judge to finalize the hearing. Because Keith was not present, the Power of Attorney was still needed. This will be different for all families traveling under the new ruling. Around 11:45 the same morning, we were driving to do a little shopping and then heading to Kid's Care. T's phone rang as it does about a thousand times a day. He hung up and turned around with a smile. "You passed court!" Sara Johnson screamed. I could barely whisper audibly, "Thank you, Lord, for this gift." My heart was doing back flips and singing the Hallelujah chorus as I smiled through the tears. Once again, God left me speechless.
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:3
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I quickly found what God wanted to share with me.
"Your way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of Your feet." Nahum 1:3
My lesson again. God called me to wait, wait, wait until I firmly fixed my eyes on Him. At last I gave up "doing" on my own. I acknowledged my exhaustion from trying to figure out the wait and His timing. Strength began to form as I waited without knowing the when but fully knowing the who. Then He moved like a whirlwind, so suddenly, that I knew it was Him. Five weeks from passing court (the first court date), I am returning to bring Abenezer home. I never anticipated such a quick turn around trip. This time I get to share the expereince with Keith. I know I don't deserve, didn't earn, this favor and stand thankful. I can't explain why some families have seen so many unsuccessful court dates or delays with Embassy clearance. I am praying for those families as they wait for the Whirlwind.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
We are cleared for travel from July 3rd to July 9th. Our embassy date is July 7th. At long last, we will bring Abenezer home. As I have said before, this adoption process has been a lesson in waiting. This is the sweetest lesson though. After being asked to wait, wait, wait, God moves in a whirlwind, and we can only hang on for the ride.
I have vowed to spend the next couple of weeks backtracking to record the events of court and my first few days with my baby boy.
Thank you, Jesus, for this incredible gift at just the right time. Thank you, friends, for your many prayers and encouragement. You are all precious to me! Abenezer, I am ready to gaze into your big beautiful eyes again. We are bringing you home!
Monday, May 31, 2010
God made himself known today. I know he orchestrates and directs our path each and every day. Some days we see his hand and on others, he remains hidden. Today, he did not hold back! His handprints are all over this day. What an incredible day of blessings! Let me share a few details.
Court was held around 10 am. We left unaware of the outcome. On our way to Kid's Care Orphanage, T received the phone call. We passed court. WE PASSED COURT! I am so thankful to God and feel so unworthy of this blessing. Most families receive news 24-28 hours later. 50% of families do not pass the first time. Their court is rescheduled, often a few days to several weeks later.
Tomorrow is my last day to visit with Abenezer before I leave Addis Ababa. It will be a hard good bye. The next step is for the US Embassy to review our case once again. Once we have been cleared, our embassy date is set and we'll travel again. This time we will bring Abenezer home. We expect ot travel in 8-12 weeks.
Giving God the Glory,
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Here's a snapshot of my day:
4:00 am ish- dogs barking, music playing from some unknown source down the street, found ipod with praise music and my beloved U2
7:30 am- alarm woke me up
9:00 am- leisurely breakfast at the Guest House, switched rooms
10:30 am- National Museum of Ethiopia with our guide, T, and the Johnsons
12:30 pm- lunch at Lucy's, no fossilized remains served, very nice restaurant, ate Doro Wot and injera
2:00 pm- Transition Home, able to give three care packages and take photos for 3 families, spent 2 hours with Ben
4:30 pm- returned to the Guest House
6:00 pm- Chatted with my hubby on Skype
6:45 pm- Dinner at Guest House- delicious chicken & rice in a tomato sauce
8:00 pm- Chatted with both of my boys on Skype- I miss them!
This is the bare bones of the day. And I saw a lot of bones today!! Ethiopia is an archeological gold mine.
The highlights of the day occurred at 4 am and 2 pm. God was speaking to me in my restless hours of the morning. He seems to do that often these days. I was concerned about Ben's reaction yesterday. He cried and wailed when I met him. It is actually a good sign to see his emotion and connection to the nannies, but it was a tough first meeting. I thought about Doug Martine sharing about how his daughter cried and cried when he first held her. She only wanted Cristie. I was wishing that Keith was here to test the other parent theory.
After lots of prayer and new expectations, I was relieved that Ben let me pick him up immediately today. He had just begun his bottle and was content to move outside and rest in my lap. In fact, he just pretended to eat for about 20 minutes. I didn't care. I was so glad that he was settled in to my arms. After snack, we played on the patio with some toys that I brought him, a musical mini "guitar" and a bumblebee on wheels. He tried to share his new toy with another little boy through the window, and I caught a glimpse of his little personality. We walked into the toddler room, sat and played. Later I asked his nannies who was his friend in the room. She looked around, smiled and said, "Everyone." I could see that.
Another treasured moment of the day was giving care packages to some of the kids on behalf of their families. I loved on them, showered them with gifts, took photos, and prayed over them. What could be better?? I know how much it meant to me for the Sullivans to deliver our care package and take photos of our little guy. I hope to bring a few families that much joy. I just wish that I could have brought more!
Please join me in prayer that each meeting with Ben will be better and better. Our court date is Monday, sometime in the morning.
Blessings from Ethiopia,
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
So now I am north bound for Washington Dulles. My flight to Ethiopia leaves tonight at 8:30 and arrives in Addis Ababa at 7 pm on Thursday. It will be 8 hours earlier CT, 11 am. I'll get to meet our baby boy sometime on Friday. I can hardly believe it! It has been a long journey to this point, but God has provided over and over again in ways I didn't even ask for.
I am blessed to have an incredible husband, mother-in-law, and dear friends to watch Joshua while I'm gone.
I'll post again from Dulles when I've gathered my thoughts.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Praying for renewed strength,
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Officially, our referral is for an 14 month old boy. He is a cuddly, chunky, little bundle. When our family passes court, we can share his pictures with you all. Thank you for your prayers that have encouraged us during this wait.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Waiting is one of the hardest things to do. Nothing would be more agonizing than waiting at home for the referral phone call. I think about receiving the call repeatedly throughout my day, especially when the phone rings. I do not stay at home and listen for the phone though. I go out to the grocery store, Costco, Joshua's art class, Starbuck's, the library, the park, bible studies, MOPS, etc. I go out and live life, but always, I am thinking about you. I try to imagine what you look like and how God is developing you. It feels a lot like when I was pregnant with Joshua. My thoughts often switch to you. My concentration is divided these days. My heart is growing larger so I can cover you in love. I can't wait to see your face and hear your name. I am so thankful that God already sees you and knows your name.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Still no referral . . . praying about resting in God's timing.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Today I had the opportunity to share my testimony at my MOPS group. When I heard about the opportunity about a month ago, I felt a strong push to sign myself up to speak to about 100 ladies. This was wierd, so unlike me. Public speaking scares me to death. I don't like to be on stage. I don't like the lime light. In fact, I am quite comfortable to be behind the scenes. The problem is that I couldn't remain silent. I am learning to be an advocate for the orphan. God is stirring up a strong passion within me to speak for those that cannot speak for themselves. It's straight out of Proverbs, chapter 31, verse 8.
After speaking, I was so excited to see women picking up AWAA info, Visiting Orphans Upcoming Mission Trip Schedules and Children's Hopechest material. One sweet mom told me she had recently had a dream about walking with an unknown African child and then came to MOPS to unexpectantly hear and see more about Ethiopian and Ugandan orphans. No coincidence!
Although I was scared and wondered if my words would resonate with anyone, I am so thankful for the stretching.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Incidentally, God spoke to me at the same event, " . . . not an orphan, an orphanage." Huh? Did you say a whole orphanage, God? I'm still not sure what it means. I know that I will hear more when the time is right.
#1: We're "on deck." This means in the America World circles that we received an email (on January 27th, I believe) which states that we're projected to receive a referral 1-3 months from the date received. 2 months and counting . . .
#2: Many families are passing court. This means that they've received their referrals and are passing the next step before traveling to Ethiopia. The bottle neck before us is lightening up.
#3: A friend shared with me at bible study tonight that she dreamed we received our referral this week for one 3 month old boy and one 4 year old boy. We did request one or two precious ones.
#4: My mom and dad are visiting this week. Keith's mom and dad are visiting this weekend. I'd love to share this with them.
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
I am certain that Jesus lived in this world, died on a cross, and rose from the dead three days later. He conquered death. This Easter, I will celebrate my hope in Him. I do not see the Spirit speaking on behalf, but I am certain that I being represented because of the promise found in Romans 8:26. "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Keith, Joshua, and I have prayed countless times for our family including our adopted children. We prayerfully made the decision to adopt. I love being firmly in God's hand. He knows the date of our referral. Without a doubt, His timing is perfect. I have faith that this referral is coming. I have faith that God is at work although I can't see His hand.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
"God's presence is not as intriguing as His absence. His voice is not as eloquent as His silence. Who of us has not longed for a word from God, searched for a glimpse of His power, or yearned for the reassurance of His presence, only to feel that He seems absent for the moment? Distant. Preoccupied. Maybe even unconcerned. Yet later, we realize how very present He was all along."
Even when His presence isn't made known, He is there. I am not asking for His silence, but I have felt it more than once in this adoption process. This is a good personal reminder that God is listening and orchestrating our families even when we don't see his hand.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
How can I best document all that has gone into our adoption process through today?
Some families start their blogs in the earliest stages, recording important mile markers along the way. We're jumping in to the adoption blog world a little later. Our paperwork is in. WHEW! Our dossier was sent to Ethiopia on 12-11-09. Amazingly, we began the process on 1-26?-09. Over the past year, we've been burdened for orphans. Yes, burdened. God has been changing us from the inside out.
After recently attending two adoption events, a CBC Mug-N-Muffin (think women, coffee, great speakers, tears and laughter) and a Sunday class highlighting the Martine's adoption story, I've seen the value in documenting one's thoughts and experiences throughout the adoption process. Videos, blogs and photos are incredible testimonies of God's ability to perfectly knit together a family. They tell a story, a personal testimony.
The details of today might be forgotten next year (or next week) if not documented. So, I'd like to answer a few questions that I've asked myself or been asked over the past year. Help me out. Please send me questions regarding our adoption decision and the process thus far. My goal is to be as transparent and authentic as possible in order to leave a history of this incredible journey.
Look for the answers to:
Which adoption agency did you choose? Why?
Why did you pick Ethiopia?
What was the hardest part about the paperwork process?
What's next? How does the adoption timeline look?
What made you decide to adopt?
Are you crazy?
. . . and more
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Sometime last summer, Keith and I challenged each other to run another marathon. This time we wanted to run together. We chose WDW's Marathon (Jan 10, 2010) because it sounded like a flat, fun, and warm course. We were right on 2 out of 3. As you'll soon see from the photos, Orlando had a record breaking cold front during our 5 night stay. The marathon was flat, fun, and very, very, very cold. The photos below are from the warmest day of our trip.
Squirming and restless . . .
Awaiting his turn for a photo with Pooh Bear and Tigger . . .
Getting ready for the photo shoot using Disney Superstar sunglasses . . .
God says: All things are possible. (Luke 18:27)
You say: "I'm too tired."
God says: I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28-30)
You say: "Nobody really loves me."
God says: I love you. (John 3:16 and John 3:34)
You say: "I can't figure things out."
God says: I will direct your steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
You say: "I can't do it."
God says: You can do all things. (Philippians 4:13)
You say: "I'm not able."
God says: I am able. (II Corinthians 9:8)
You say: "I am afraid."
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear. (II Timothy 1:7)
You say: "I feel all alone."
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
No excuses. Now, what is God calling you and your family to do? We are excited to share about our call to adopt and our response. These details will slowly unfold in upcoming posts. We had a lot of excuses to ignore the call or just postpone it. In the end, we took the plunge. We got out of the boat. We are done with the paperwork pregnancy. Whew! What took some people 4-6 months to complete took us 10 1/2 months to complete. I'm not boasting; it's just no surprise. Am I ever early?? Noooo. Many setbacks waited behind every new document needed including a mysterious illness. Was it malaria? dengue fever? Fever of an unknown origin was the official diagnosis. We now have a DTE (Dossier To Ethiopia) of 12/11/09. We are officially requesting an infant boy, 0-18 months as a single placement or an infant boy and a boy or girl sibling, 0-6 years old. Are we afraid? At times. Anxious? At times. I love the truth found in II Timothy 1:7.
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
We gladly put on God's spirit. As Keith says, "I am tired of living life in fear."