In the beginning, JD adamantly only wanted two children. I thought that four would be perfect. Once we caught God's vision of putting orphans into families, our plan was multiplied by God. We are currently blessed with 12 children; five biological, six adopted and one more waiting in Ethiopia. Our first adoption was from the U.S., the next three were from Liberia, West Africa, and our last two were from Ethiopia. We are supporting our 12th child in Ethiopia after her adoption could not pass court.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

One More Project

 We are approaching our four year anniversary in our home - we moved in about two weeks before Elijah was born. The funny thing about that is that I have seldom ever lived in one house for four years before, maybe twice in my over 40 years. In the beginning, we planned on the house being totally done before we moved in; in reality, that was totally unrealistic and we moved in with a ton not finished. Now, at the four year anniversary, there is still a good bit that is not finished, but there are also a lot of other things done that we didn't have in the plans. 

There is the large "game room" downstairs that still needs ceiling and some painting. It sounds easier than it is because there is so many building supplies stored in that area. We also haven't installed baseboards or closet doors downstairs other than in the three bedrooms. The only bathroom down there also remains an empty shell, although if the weather remains this hot, the bathroom will get done before the screened in porch. 

On the good side, JD actually finished hooking up the solar panels that he hoisted on the roof about a year ago and they are currently providing all our hot water! The instant-on hot water heater will only switch on as back up. I am anxious to see the savings reflected on next months electric bill, although our current AC load for our 100 degree days may suck up a good chunk of the savings!

Here's the solar hot water tank - it is enormous.

The instant on is only mounted on the wall and doesn't have a tank. It has successfully provided our large family hot water for the last four years and now gets a much needed break.

The largest project that JD has taken on has been building the screened in porch and deck. We are down to needing to build the chimney, add the ceiling and flooring in the porch. It is just going to have to wait for cooler days since yesterday was 106 outside with a heat index of 113!

So, what do we often do when one project is drawing to a close and we are down to only a half a dozen other unfinished projects? We start another! This week's is laying new flooring in the living room and dining room. While we wanted wood flooring when we moved in, we are only rushing into this project because of our dining room situation with the new girls coming home. 
The Amish benches we bought are nice for packing people around the table, but they were so heavy on two rugs (the area rug to prevent the dining room rug from being ruined) that we have avoided sitting there for the last several months. Once one person sat on the bench, it was practically impossible to slide the benches in and out for anyone else to sit down. We thought the only practical solution was to put in wood flooring and then recycle the carpet to the bedrooms down-stairs. 

So, this was the living room a few days ago while JD pulled the carpet out of the dining room - 

Then we shifted most of it to the dining room so that the living room carpet could be pulled up.

Today the beginning of the wood floor went it. 

JD is now putting those little feet things on all the furniture so that it won't scratch the wood. I also am going to attempt to put the china hutch farther down the wall to allow for more room around the table, since we are going to soon be a family of 13! 

If you are wondering my role in all of this flooring, it has mainly been hair. I redid all of Tori's corn-rows, cut James and Ben's hair and am getting ready to do the first section of Julia's new locs! Every now and then I break to swap the laundry. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Call In Day

Please, please take a few minutes today to call your representative in D.C. and urge them to co-sponsor the bipartisan bill H.R. 4373 - Making Adoption Affordable Act. This is only going to extend the current amount of tax credit that is currently available to those who adopt. If it expires this year, as it is scheduled to do so, it will only make adoption less affordable and leave more children, in the U.S. and over seas, without families.  If you wondering the statistics of it, right now it costs about $25,000 to $45,000 to adopt one child internationally and the tax credit is $11,000; so it makes a big difference in the end cost of an adoption. 

Even if it doesn't effect you right now, it very well may directly effect your friends or family in the future if the bill does not pass. If you don't know your representative's name, you can find it at  http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and enter your zip code in the box. You then can reach your representative by calling the Capitol Operator at 202-225-3121. 

Thanks - do it for the kids like Selah that need a Daddy that can loan out his sun-glasses.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Finally Pictures - Selah Mercy Kalkidan

 I am so excited to post that the smudge has been resubmitted and cleared in court, so I am able to present my legal 10th child, who will be named Selah Mercy Kalkidan. Selah means pause and reflect and Kakidan means promise. I just felt such an urging to include Mercy and Truth in the girl's names that both will have two middle names. Since she is often called Kalki in Ethiopia, we will be calling her Selah Kalki for quite a while. She supposedly turned five in May, but the adoption agency on both sides of the ocean thinks that she is younger than five. I think she is probably turning four, just like Elijah, but we won't be choosing an age, or birth date, until we have a bone scan done and can get as close as possible. 

She has quite the personality and maybe a bit of a strong will (won't be our first!) She is definitely outgoing and enjoyed the attention of a Mom and Dad for the first time in her life!

She has absolutely beautiful eyes - 

 And a darling smile, although the poor baby is going to have to endure pretty serious dental work to fix her teeth. I am afraid they are all pretty decayed. 

 She worked intently with the toys I brought, but unless I had a towel to wipe the sticky bubbles off the wand, she had me blow them for her. 

She likes to sing, dance and yell for fun though!

All the pictures that we took the first day, Selah is wearing JD's sun glasses. After that, we were smart enough to leave them in the room. I did buy her her own little pair for the trip home, she will be thrilled.

We can't wait to get you home, Selah, we can't wait!

If I am understanding correctly, Isabella did actually pass court last week or this, but they are waiting on a letter from MOWA (ministry of women and children) to catch up with her packet. I'm quite sure I can not post pictures of her until that letter is approved. Hopefully soon, because I want to start the ticking clock that means we can bring the girls home!

Still Waiting

 We are still waiting...every day I hope for news of passing court. In the mean-time, Alei bought Elijah this new shirt. He wanted to be sure that the camera could make out the words, so he held his breath and puffed out his chest as much as possible. 

I have started putting the kid's names on the walls in their rooms since that I have figured out how to fully operate the borrowed Cricut I have had in my procession for some time. It's an awesome machine, maybe one day I'll buy my own. I have a big plan for the family room down stairs that I'm excited to begin, but first I have to repaint the wall.

We have our second swim meet tonight, thankfully it's a home meet since I have to get Julia in bed at a decent hour for summer school. I'm not sure how I'm going to pull that off the next few swim meets; sometimes my only hope is that Mommy clones will become available!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Adoption Update and More Waiting

Let me just start my update with the reality warning that if you adopt, you get to practice patience. You see, the norm. for Ethiopia is that legally the child is yours when you leave court and you are then able to post pictures of them. We were told a few days before we traveled that one of the seals on one of the 3,000 documents for Selah was smudged and that while all would be fine for court, we wouldn't be able to post pictures of her for an extra few days until it was re-submitted. We later found out that they would just resubmit it when they returned for Bella's court date. 

The week before last we were told that Bella had a court date last week, although they didn't know for sure what day. Every day last week I waited, prayed and hoped and heard nothing. When Friday rolled around, I called and emailed and still heard nothing. I called this morning and was told that although they had called for an update that morning, the lines to Ethiopia are down and they will not be able to find out anything until they are up again. She assured me that she would call as soon as she hears. 

So, again, we wait. Today has been three weeks since we appeared in the court room in Ethiopia. I am just hoping that no news is good news at this point and hopefully I will be able to post pictures soon!

Until then, want to see how cute they are from the back?


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Only Once

Since we don't do parties every year and 13 is a big deal, Alyssa had an all night birthday bash. She really did a lot of the work, including turning the play room into a teen sleeping area. My toughest job was feeding them all and washing the six loads of towels that 15 girls used for three rounds of swimming and showering. Honestly, I didn't even realize that we owned that many towels!

I wish I had taken a good picture of the decorating - Alyssa, Moriah, and their friend, Emily, did an awesome job. 

I didn't pull out my camera until this morning, however, when these two sweet girls were reading to my little guys.

I then got brave and headed down the stairs with my camera. Yeah, it was a mess and it extended far beyond just this room.

Look at the girls on the couch - I thought only puppies, or piglets, could sleep like that!

The party ended at 11:00 a.m. and Moriah was sound asleep on the living room couch around 9:00. She didn't move while the girls said good-bye and slept until after 2:00 this afternoon.

Crazy girls.

Great News

I am thrilled to be able to update that Sol and Chris have been released from jail in Ghana (see previous post if you have no idea what I am talking about), have been reunited with their biological children and have hope of receiving their already legally adopted children as early as Monday. It was so exciting to see so many move to prayer on their behalf and to see God work so quickly to release them. I am excited to see what God has planned for the four children that they are adopting!

Urgent Prayer Needed for Adopting Family

I was met with the most unbelievable story on Facebook today. A family that lives in CA that is adopting a sibling group of four from Ghana headed there for court, just like we just did a few weeks ago, with their two biological children. They are adopting through a large agency and had all appropriate paperwork, but were arrested on child trafficking charges and thrown in a jail in Ghana. Their biological children, who are only four and six, were put into the orphanage along with the four children that they are adopting. At first, the U.S. embassy in Ghana was not going to look into their case until Monday, since they don't work weekends, but due to the out-cry from the adoption community, they are going to begin working on it today. Please pray for this family - I can only imagine how terrified their little boys are (they can't even understand the language!) and how stressful the whole situation has to be for the parents. You can see the family here - 


You can be a voice for them with the embassy in Ghana here - please ask that they be released immediately and their children be reunited with them. The more people, the more the embassy will prioritize their case!


Finally, this seals the deal for me...I have been wanting to take Elijah with us to Ethiopia. After reading this, he will be staying safely at home! I pray that somehow, someway, good will come from the trauma this family is being called to endure. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

While I Wait

Isabella is/was supposed to have her court hearing (that we were pre-approved for when we were in Ethiopia) this week. So far, I have not heard anything. Waiting is hard. 

Here's some pictures taken by Moriah to pass the time. (I'm hoping to still hear something today, Friday.) 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Birthday, Road Trip and Swim Meet

 Alyssa turned 13 on Monday; it's hard to believe that she is the youngest of my "original four" children. She was the last biological until Elijah arrived on the scene nine years later. We attended foster parent classes right when Alyssa was turning three and it's been a bit crazy ever since. I didn't get a single decent picture of her, but I have the opportunity to try again tomorrow night when her friends invade the house for a 13th birthday party. 

Gabriel, Alayna and Alayna's brother are on a road trip to Memphis, then on to Colorado. They waited until the morning after Alyssa's birthday to leave since we are down to the final few months before Gabriel leaves with the Navy and we can no longer count on him at birthday times. 

Last night was our first swim meet and it was super hot! The heat index was like 105 as the meet began. It was still hot at 10:00 when the meet ended. Julia and Elijah had a great time on the play-ground and it was nice for me to watch the meet without them sitting on me in the heat (my friend's daughter watched them). 

Julia did swim her one event. She seems so little to be a second year swimmer, but she does a decent job.

The kids did pretty well and did walk away with some 1st place ribbons. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Spring and Summer Collide

 There have been some major happenings around here the last week, but I've been too busy dealing with the collision of spring and summer that I haven't had blog time. My spring and summer are colliding because we are still doing the spring school routine (since we aren't done) and yet we are also in full summer mode, which is swim team and gardening.

JD opened our little pool over the weekend. We have had that pool for almost ten years and the kids just don't fit in it like they did when we initially bought it with only four. We are having the debate of whether we hang on for four or five more years and hope to put in an inground pool or whether we just buy the largest above-ground they sell and put it in the backyard next year or the year after. I am voting for the latter, because too many of the kids will be too grown in five years, but "the other side" isn't letting go of the dream pool yet. 

In the mean-time, I am putting our old hot tub on Craigslist and we had to pump the tad-poles out of it. So, once again, we have two little blue pools filled with tad-poles on the edge of the woods. 

Magnum if getting so big; he's such a good dog. 

We have also had some really great fund-raisers. We brought back hand-made paper-bead necklaces to sell and they are selling really well. It's a win all the way around because it provided work for those making them in Ethiopia, it's raising money for our next trip and people are getting a chance to buy cool jewelry. I am willing to mail them if anyone wants one - (they are $15 and $3 for shipping).

A friend held a fund-raiser for us at a place called Fun Land. Most of my kids had never been, so we all went. They all had a blast and played until 11:30 p.m. I think JD had just as much fun on the go-carts as the kids. Here he is racing his friends. He wanted me to tell you that he not only is in the lead in this picture, but he kept them behind him the whole way and won. Yea JD!

I am really hoping to wrap school up in the next week or two and be able to spend some time getting things done in the house that I want completed before we bring the girls home.

I was told that Bella's court date is scheduled for this week, so any day now, I will be able to show pictures of the girls. Selah's smudged document is being re-submitted the day that they attend court for Bella.