Sunday, December 2, 2012

Final push for funds

Hey guys, so I know everyone is tired of hearing donate this way, purchase this, come to this yard sale or this dinner. Well, I promise that is all drawing to an end with this. I am currently selling t-shirts to help raise travel money and I need your support. Just go to and select any item. E-mail me ( the item, size if applicable and send payment either through the paypal button or check. I have about two weeks left to sell a LOT of items or I end up paying for the initial shipment...and trust me, I don't need to be out any money at this point. There are many who have said they wanted to help. These shirts are great looking and comfortable and share the wonderful message that one changes everything.

I am now 34 weeks into this adoption process and continually stand in awe at how God has orchestrated the timing of each event and the raising of funds. I took a step of faith in the initial loan to start the process and continue to praise him for the support of so many to get these girls to their home. I know HE will not fail me in providing what is needed to the end, yet my human nature causes me to grow concerned. Please join with me and pray for how you can help.

With that, a quick update. Things in the Shinkle household are crazy!!! My house looks like a demolition sight with the addition of Abby and Becca's bedroom and an expansion to the living room in progress. I also recently became a mini van mom again in order to accomodate all of the kiddos and car seats/boosters. It seems everything is in order. Christmas is in the top of my closet though a homecoming prior to Christmas is feeling more and more an impossibility. Pray with me on that one also. I need these girls home! Things in the DRC grow more unsettled every day and though these two have proven how much they can endure my heart aches for them to not have to suffer further. I have all pieces of documentation (minus one translation) and paperwork now lies with the USCIS for final approval. Travel will be soon and I will celebrate yet another gotcha day.

Speaking of which, can you believe it has been almost two years since Joseph and Jacob's arrival! I just finished submitting their annual report and might I say that capturing their past year adequately in 6-8 pictures is incredibly challenging! I was thinking just last night of the time not so long ago when my world was so so different. When I came home to a quiet empty house. When I traveled at will and worked crazy long hours just because I could. A time when my world was about me. Well, though I might yearn for that quiet from time to time, I would not change my life for the world. I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this moment in my life and rejoice that God has chosen me to be his hands and feet. Remember that post I made early in the initial adoption process. The one titled be careful what you ask for. I never in a million years would have pictured my life as this at this stage but now I can picture nothing else. Incredibly amazing how God works....incredibly amazing!

Thanks to all for the continued love and support. I hope that my next post will be on the heels of travel. Until then...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

They are my daughters...officially!

I am thrilled to introduce Rebecca Lynne Kembia Shinkle and Abigail Blessing Masengo Shinkle as my daughters! I received their long awaited adoption judgement yesterday! No longer will they be referred to with the words "family unknown." Instead, my name has been placed alongside theirs and our journey officially begins as mother and daughters.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Prayers Answered!

Well God apparently convicted some people in the DRC and the girls were operated on yesterday afternoon. Both were "troopers" according to reports. All toes appear intact and they have been taken to the house of a pastor's wife for care. They will be seen back by the doctors on Wednesday and Friday. B has a long road ahead of her with infection apparent from the pictures but prayerfully she has also been placed on appropriate antibiotic coverage.
Our CCI family should arrive next weekend to deliver shoes and continue care. Then rainy season should arrive in October (which kills the jiggers) and shortly thereafter I should receive word to travel and bring them home!
Praising God just a little more this morning!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Longest Day of My Adoption Journey(s)

Today I have experienced every emotion known to man...every fear, every frustration, anger, sadness, disbelief and ultimately contentment in our Father's plan. The day began at 455 with an e-mail stating that both girls had arrived at the hospital. Wow! I thought it was just going to be B but they were both there. The first feeling of relief that at least they were together was soon overtaken by the knowledge that there was no where for them to go after surgery except back to the orphanage. All I could envision were the open wounds walking barefoot through the orphanage and the infection that would ensue. So when I read the update from Sue that they had been taken back to the orphanage due to no after care I was somewhat relieved though concerned at the delay this meant for their health. I also grieved for the fear and lack of understanding these two precious girls must be experiencing.

Phone calls and e-mails have consumed much of my day. I am grateful for the updates and for the care shown from each person.
  • Thank you for the prayers that are being sent up from all over the world.
  • Thank you to those who are in a position to support the efforts of Project Feet financially so that each child at the orphanage may receive the treatment needed.
  • Thank you to Sue at CCI. Today I heard in her voice the emotion of a woman who is truly the hands and feet of Jesus. A person who is willing to advocate for my children...for our children...and becomes as distraught as adoptive parents when things don't go as planned. A woman who is going to extreme measures to have her family care for mine. Thank you Sue!
  • Thank you to organizations like One Less who blessed me with a grant for this adoption. I thought I got it before, but after this day I truly get it. These children (at least in this part of the world) are discarded as useless to society except for the money generated by their adoption. There is no one in their culture willing to step up and do the right thing for them because it is what every child deserves. Organizations like One Less allow families to unite with God's chosen children and rescue those children from the depths of their experience as individuals without a purpose.
There is much about today I do not feel I should reveal. There are probably as many questions as answers. But what I rest in is that God's timing is perfect and his plan what will occur.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support, your prayers, your e-mails, your phone calls. I will continue to update as I receive news.

 God bless.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Urgent Prayer Request

I learned earlier today that R & B were seen in clinic in the DRC as a result of fundraising efforts by Project Feet. After evaluation the doctor insists that B have surgery tomorrow. I do not know the complete seriousness of her situation. I know from the pictures that it is bad. My fear is that gangrene has set in and/or she has a systemic infection resulting from untreated jiggers.

I have never felt so helpless in my life and turn to each of you to be prayer warriors for each of these children. For Blessing may that prayer be that her life be spared. She has already lived up to her name as she has become a blessing to all children in the orphanage who will now receive the needed surgery because of the seriousness of her situation. It breaks my heart that her purpose on earth may end with this and that she is so far from those who love her. Pray that God wrap her in his arms and that she may know she has a family waiting for her. Pray for relief of pain, that her toes might be saved, and for proper antibiotic coverage for infection. Pray that God will intervene to get the right people to the DRC immediately to provide care in an environment other than the orphanage post surgery. Pray for the physician and others who make decisions for B. Pray for R who will be separated from her sister and as she waits to have the same surgery in a short time. Pray for her family here as we wait. Pray for Sue at CCI as she advocates for many families and tries to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. Just pray.

I will update as soon as I have any word....

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Helpless But Not Without Hope

I continue to receive updates about the condition of my daughters in DRC and was fortunate to join an emergency chat last evening regarding treatment options. In a nutshell, it is bad. All of the children at this orphanage are affected by jiggers and are suffering. Mine I have been told are the worst. The children live in sandy conditions where the jiggers thrive and even their orphanage and beds are infested. Families who recently celebrated Gotcha Day were thrown suddenly into this reality and their children operated on while in DRC. Now it seems this option for surgery potentially exists immediately for those children waiting for families to arrive. This thanks to the concern of Sue Hedberg at Celebrate Children International who was not...content that this is a common condition. But to make this option a reality there is much needed. Money and people to provide care leading to and following surgery are the big ones. I have attached a link to Project Feet where the details can be found.

I remember seeing a video while in the process of adopting Joseph and Jacob that spoke of the lengths a parent will go to for their that instance and in mine those in another country for which we are powerless in so much leading up to homecoming. It spoke of clawing through walls with bare hands, swimming oceans, and the like. Anyone with children knows this feeling. Our role is to do anything to protect our children. I have often been asked how you love an adopted child equal to biological, how this feeling extends in that same way...and the fact is you just do and it just does. From the moment I laid eyes on these girls they were my daughters and everything about them up to and including skin color and heritage are a very real part of me. Adoption is much like a pregnancy, only we have the joy of knowing the sex and seeing their faces right from the beginning. Bonding begins at that moment and we begin to see similarities within our families. Jacob and B were meant to be sisters...she looks so much like him. Joseph and R as well...they have the same smile! I would do anything....yet for now the only options are to ask first for prayer and second for financial support.

I would do anything...
What part can you play?

For the needy shall not always be forgotten,and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. Psalm 9:18

Monday, August 27, 2012


I was blessed to be selected by Give1Save1 as the featured family this week for a video made by my daughter Kathy. It is indeed humbling to watch the events of recent years unfold from her perspective and I am excited to see the level God takes this fundraising effort to. This is a huge opportunity and I ask for everyone to share the link with family and friends. Included are updated pictures of the girls, including one of B's feet. There was some discussion last night on a weekly chat as to whether these pictures should be shown...the feet that is. To clarify, I understand that this may not be something she (B) would want others to see. The fact is though that her reality is causing pain and I, yes I, need prayer support to deal with this reality and prepare for next steps. As I gather these prayer warriors I ask that you remember the thousands of children affected by the orphan crisis. Pray for each one involved, for the end of needless suffering, for families waiting to be joined with their children, and for those children waiting for families to say yes to the call of adoption. Pray for the relief of pain, for healing of tissue as topical treatment has begun for those at R and B's orphanage. Pray....
Thank you for your continued support. We are just a few short months from being forever joined as a family! God bless!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

August update on adoption and on boys

It seems that every day I open my daily devotional recently I find just the words to get me through another moment of doubt and fear. August 23rd, "Entrust your loved ones to me; release them into my protective care. They are much safer with me than in your clinging hands." I have done this countless times before with children away at college, on a date, making poor life choices, in another country at war to protect our freedoms, just to name a few. This time I literally have no choice but to rely on God's wisdom, grace, and mercy once again as I find myself thousands of miles from my children...wanting them home but wanting more to ease their suffering. I haven't slept much since receiving new pictures of the girls mid-week. I feel so blessed to be a part of the first group's trip to the DRC. These first families are bringing their children home early next week and I got to be a part of that journey through pictures and e-mail updates. I also saw precious pictures of R & B as they were introduced to their new family with delivery of their first care package. I saw the card being read that I sent and them flipping through their photo albums, wearing stickers Joseph and Jacob sent, and clutching dolls I picked ever so carefully for them. The girls are beautiful, they are growing, but they are in pain. It seems most of children are in the same shape. Jiggers have all but eaten away at the feet of these precious girls. Apparently there is no treatment until arrival for pick-up as they will just be re-infested. In the meantime the locals wait for the rainy season and relief that comes at that time. As I looked upon those beautiful faces and those horrific pictures of their feet I have been heartbroken and sickened. I have been a pediatric nurse for 17 years and don't think I have ever seen anything that brought me so close to tears and physical illness. Please pray for relief from pain for all of the children involved and pray for an expeditious homecoming.
I am awaiting paperwork from what I believe to be their final court date. Then there are many forms to get through the system and more waiting for word to travel. Though I just began the process a few months ago each moment is agonizing as we wait.
B's feet. Pray that toes will not be lost, that infection will not go systemic, that pain will be eased.
In the meantime, life here goes on as normal. I decided to take the plunge and begin house hunting and fell in love with a home literally three times the size of my current one. After much prayer I took the plunge and put mine on the market and a contract pending sale on my current home. I hope to move the end of September if the house sells. If not, I will likely begin expansion on my current home and wait a while before considering this life change. I also have narrowed the choices of a new vehicle large enough to carry us all and will begin looking for a low mileage gently used mini van in the near future.
Summer has gone by way to quickly! The boys are good. Well, except...Jacob was diagnosed with molluscum on his face several months back. As that began spreading and he persistently picked I went through two prescriptions to find the trick to eliminating them. He has a scar on his right cheek from removal by cream and wound up with cellulitis in that same eye after picking one below his eyebrow but it seems they are gone. He also has been suffering with awful allergies for several weeks and today brought a second day in three weeks that he coughed all day (and continues now two hours past bedtime despite inhalers and benadryl). Joseph seems to have grown out of his allergies...really hope I don't eat those words. He finally got his long awaited day and began kindergarten on Tuesday of this week. He was so nervous he tried to put his jeans on minus underwear and shirt on over his pajama top! He is very tired having only recently transitioned from daily naps but loves going to school and LOVES riding the bus home. He has also officially grown out of all size 4 and 5T clothing and completely grown from the toddler look into a young boy.

You can see the excitement all over his face as he took his place at his desk!
All ready for his first day of kindergarten!

Not to be outdone, here is a recent picture of Jacob who is growing up all too fast. We finally captured that gorgeous smile! There is a horrible glare because I took a picture of the picture, but I wanted to share this handsome man!
Finally, I invite you to view our family video at to be aired tomorrow or Monday. This is a huge opportunity for fundraising so spread the word!

See the meanness oozing forth as he gives that horse a squeeze:)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Exciting news from the adoption arena!

What a busy week this has been with lots of progress toward the homecoming of R & B!
  • Fundraising activities abound. I held the yard sale a couple of weeks back and managed to bring in a little over $600 with items donated by family and friends. My heart goes out to those who sweltered in the heat with me for two days to make the sale a success.
  • Earlier this week I also posted about an opportunity provided by Wild Olive. Go to and you will find many Christian t-shirts (not adoption specific) to choose from. At checkout enter the code SHINKLE629 and I will receive a portion of proceeds paid directly to CCI to go toward remaining expenses.
  • My daughter Kathy also created an amazing video of my first adoption process which goes to where I am now with the girls. I am humbled just to watch it (and I have watched it many many times) and amazed to see the story from her perspective. The video was created for an opportunity with Give1Save1 and we learned earlier this week it will be featured during the month of August. Please consider going to during August to view the video and make a donation toward the adoption.
  • In addition, I learned yesterday that I am the recipient of a grant from ONEless Ministries! This also will be paid directly to CCI to offset expenses.
  • I faxed another grant application to A Child Waits Foundation today and am anxiously awaiting results of the pre-application process.
  • Most exciting is that I received an e-mail from CCI today that adoption court proceedings in the DRC have begun! If I am at all on target of understanding this process I am still a few months from travel, but each step feels like a mountain has moved.
  • A co-adopter I met during the Ordinary Hero benefit is planning to travel the end of this month to bring her son home and now has a package in her possession to take to each of my girls. They will soon come face-to-face by way of pictures with the family waiting so anxiously for them!
  • Finally, I found the house of my dreams the other day and am viewing it this weekend. It has everything I want...twice the space, 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a playroom, den, living room, fenced in backyard, and is on a cul-de-sac so an opportunity for four little ones to ride their bicycles with less fear of traffic.
  • I also have narrowed my choices of vehicles to trade to and though the luxurious ride I now have will need to be replaced with a minivan it is a necessity that will be short lived and so worth it.
So, as you can see, lots happening but lots more still needed. Please continue to pray for the health of the girls and for the preparation of the boys. Oh, I also will be traveling alone due to health risks of the yellow vaccine immunization to my daughter Kathy so pray for that. If you wish to offer a pledge of financial support instead of those options listed above I have a paypal link on the sidebar and would love for you to consider partnering with me to get these girls to their forever home.

I will end with a picture of two little boys anxious to meet their newest sisters. Oh, they have no idea how their world is going to be rocked!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wild Olive T-Shirts

I am excited to announce that we have been approved to participate with Wild Olive t-shirts to fundraise for the adoption! Wild Olive is a company founded by adoptive moms, who allow other adoptive families to partner with them to sell t-shirts. There are many, many designs, all Scripturally based. The shirts are incredible and I am honored that they have chosen our family to participate!

To view the shirts and participate in our fundraiser, please visit the website at: On the website, any shirts you find under the Adoption Fundraiser tab that are purchased help support the girls adoption. As you go to check out, you will see a button that says "Coupon Code", enter SHINKLE629 as the code so they can link your sale to our adoption. While it is not a coupon that offers a discount, it does allow the ladies running the site to know that your order was to support our family.

Thank you for continuing to support the adoption of R&B through our fundraising activities. Please spread the word by passing this link, and our family coupon code SHINKLE629, to anyone who likes a beautiful t-shirt!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Adoption Update

Well, things are moving along toward homecoming! All paperwork was received and with quick turn-a-round sent back out to the next destination. The dossier should be on it's way to the DRC for translation and my 30 day wait for the next court date ends this week. Hoping the timeline stays on target to avoid delay in getting Becca and Abby home. USCIS has received my I600A and I will prayerfully have a fingerprint appointment coming soon. Then it's a few more forms and more waiting.
Fundraising has also begun. The Chick-fil-A benefit dinner was a blast and added a small amount to the bank account. A yard sale will be held two weeks from yesterday. By the way, I still need lots of donations for this to be a much needed success. Stand by for information on t-shirts that are awesome and then there is a video soon to be in the works. I have applied for a grant and earnestly seeking additional ways of bringing in money for remaining fees. I have been praying for 3-4 generous donors to make this feel possible. That prayer was answered by the first family last week.
I know I should be worried but I am at such peace with this whole thing. I have no idea how all of the pieces will end up fitting perfectly together but my God does and I rest in that. Thank you for the continued love and support. Hoping to have more information soon...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tales of a two year old

Oh the joy (and sometimes embarrassment) that comes with a toddler. We were out to lunch after church on Sunday when Jacob, leaned over the booth to a passing customer and announced, "Hey baby, I pee peed in the potty!" Best pick up line ever right?! Where does he get these things:)

Then, following an ENT appointment on Tuesday (where I am thankful to report his tubes are still in place and functioning properly) we ran by the office to visit with co-workers. On the way out his love of flipping switches suddenly turned on him as his fingers found the fire pull station by the elevator and suddenly lights were flashing, sirens wailing, and red alert heard throughout the hospital. Yes, on my floor, in my hospital, with many co-workers I had to say, no it's not a fire, just my son.

Love, love, love this boy and the never knowing what is coming next!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Busy May

Adoption - Things are progressing rapidly to bring R & B home! Documents left for The Assistant Stork today. The dossier is complete minus homestudy. Homestudy is done but waiting on report. Once that is in hand I can send in the dossier, file the I600-A and get the USCIS portion moving. I received new pictures over the weekend which thrilled me to no end. Fundraising begins next week and will hopefully begin to replenish some of what has been going out so rapidly!

Jacob - This little guy is just a delight...a stubborn, loud delight with a bit of a mean streak:) You might liken him to a bully as he tries to do everything first and best. He gets so upset with himself when he can't do what he is attempting. He is a natural athlete and my only decision will be which sport to enroll him in when he is old enough. He has actual conversation now though some does need interpreting still. We have begun working on potty training on an infrequent basis. He has control and he has no effort going when he tries but that stubborn streak runs strong and many times he just will not try. His teachers absolutely adore him both at daycare and church which makes my leaving him a bit easier.

Joseph - What a busy month for this little boy. He has been playing soccer and is beginning to look like he is deliberately scoring. Most games he scores 2-3 goals with the one game exception when he burst into tears because he didn't score. He expects so much from himself. 

Good action shot from this past weekend
Trophies followed this game!

Joseph graduated from pre-school this past week. I'm a pro at graduation and held it together except when a song played during a video with the words, "I can remember when, you fit in the palm of my hand." Most parents cried because they have this memory. I cried because I don't. Still not certain Joseph knew what graduation was all about, but he sure looked handsome and all grown up!
Just look at that smile as he walked past me!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's Official!

It is so absolutely incredible to watch God at work and all it took was an ounce of faith and the courage to say yes to his calling. I am completely blown away by the response from friends and family at my decision to adopt again. I have received donations from 4 states, 9 counties, and countless friends so far and am pleased to say that the countdown to completely fund this adoption is now at 5816 people willing to make that $5.00 donation. Thank you!
In the meantime, I have a fundraiser planned at Chick-fil-A on May 24th and yard sale for June 23rd. I receive 20% of the proceeds at Chick-fil-A so if you are in the Smyrna area on May 24th come hungry and join the celebration. All you need is the attached coupon in hand or on your phone. The offer is good for dining in or drive through. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Have (Had) a Dream

In 1962 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous speech where he stated, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” That dream is alive and fully recognized in the Shinkle household, though far from reality throughout this world. Dr. King fought for his four children and I now have the opportunity, no privilege, to make four of my seven among those who will certainly face the challenges of racism throughout their lives.

In November 2009 I began this journey to change the destiny of my family. The adoption of Joseph and Jacob has no doubt transformed future generations and touched those among us now. I had the luxury of taking my time through the first adoption through many circumstances seemingly within and beyond my control. This allowed for fundraiser after fundraiser and the opportunity to pay one expense before the next came due. This time however, time itself may not be on my side.

  • March 18, 2012 I had a dream
  • There were twin girls born in this dream
  • I had a split second decision to make
  • April 2010 I first saw Jacob. April 2012 I was scrolling through pictures of waiting children and my heart literally leapt as I saw twin girls destined to be my daughters
  • These girls remind me of Joseph and Jacob in many of their mannerisms
  • There is a perceived urgency in moving forward to get them home
  • One of these girls will retain her first name in America. The other (like Jacob) will likely get a new first name

I am not one to believe in coincidence but can plainly see the plan laid before me by a God who is able to overcome every challenge now before me. We are commanded in scripture to care for the widows and orphans, with each individual equipped to do that in his or her unique way. For some this means to allow the 147 million orphans to be another’s problem, some are called to adopt, and others to financially and prayerfully support those who do adopt. Jesus himself ordained adoption by allowing us to be called his sons and daughters.

I have a radical challenge to place before those who would believe with me and I only need 6000 people to say yes. Um, yes, I did say 6,000! If 6000 people will donate $5.00, less than the cost of a one-time lunch, this adoption will be almost fully funded and I can bring two more children out of poverty and disease. I can tuck them in bed at night, celebrate holidays and birthdays with them, and provide needed medical care. I can be the one lucky enough to teach them about their Heavenly Father while providing the opportunity to grow to be successful adults.

Now, here is the crazy part. I can be paper ready in about 3 months, so this challenge comes with a deadline. Just 12 weeks, $30,000, and 2 lives saved. Many will ask, “What’s in it for me?” and I respond, the opportunity to witness a living God in action as he makes the impossible possible. Will you please join me now in supporting the international adoption of these two precious, precious girls and help them reach their forever family.

Thank you and God Bless,

Debbie, Kathy, Amy, David, Joseph, Jacob, R, and B


Monday, March 19, 2012

Big decisions

My soul is restless as I find myself back in a familiar place. Adoption changes your life forever. Adoption gets in your blood. Seeing lives change so drastically is wonderfully amazing. It took me 48 years to say yes to God's calling in my life. Most days I feel I barely get it right. As a single parent it is tough to be all things at all times. Yet since arriving home last January with Joseph and Jacob...actually, since beginning the adoption journey months earlier...I felt this would not be the last time I walked this pathway. As time has gone on I found myself comfortable. I am blessed beyond words with two boys who are healthy and happy, who seem adjusted most of the time, whom I put to bed at 730 and don't hear from until 630 or 7 the next morning. Two boys who are used to (and love) the daycare experience and seem to understand that I must work to provide all that we have. God doesn't like comfortable.

I had a dream two nights ago. In this dream I was handed a baby girl and had the split second decision to save her life or let her die. I had just given birth to this child (definitely metaphoric) and she was not breathing and had a look on her face of death. Of course, I chose life and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Moments later there was another child on the way...a daughter I knew. Sunday morning the dream was so vivid and I began to ponder it's meaning. It took no time to understand that I do have this choice. I can choose to give another child life (perhaps two) or I can remain comfortable.

Why me God? Why is it that the same people are called repeatedly to this journey? Why can't the others simply do their part and the orphan crisis would cease to exist? I choose to live in the perfect center of God's will for me and for some crazy reason it appears I could be expanding my family again. Joseph recently asked for a little sister and I laughed and told him there was nothing else little coming in the house. I think God has something else in mind. I believe he has my daughter already chosen!!

Again, I ask why. I have my nice little house just as I want it, with hardwood floors installed in memory of my mother after her passing. I will need a bigger house. I have a car that seats four comfortably with room for two car seats only. I will need a bigger car. I have one about to start school and was rejoicing at the "pay raise" from no more daycare expense for him. Hmmm, could it be that this money will help pay the adoption expenses. Certainly I wouldn't feel the pain of another child in daycare. I should receive an inheritance from my Grandfather's estate. He passed away the end of January. What a legacy to use this for the adoption of his great granddaughter. I will most likely be committing professional suicide with another adoption. I am criticized regularly for what others perceive as lack of dedication to my job because of the time required to care for Joseph and Jacob if they get sick. Yet I was reminded in prayer last week that Christ promised we would be persecuted for choosing to follow him, so why should I expect anything different. I cannot even fathom fund raising with these two in tow. I have sold most of the baby items and will have to begin anew.

I ask for your prayers as I seek to follow HIS will for my life. I struggle knowing how old I will be when these children graduate from college. Joseph has begun to point out his skin color and today asked why mine was different. That doesn't bother me or him now, but will it him in a few years?

In a short update, the boys are doing great. In comparison to last year their health is wonderful. Spring has sprung early and the allergies have kicked in but we can live comfortably with that. Joseph continues to love "school" and is looking forward to his 5th birthday. He starts soccer next week. I've never done soccer before so this should be interesting. Jacob is two! Not much more to say than that he meets every definition of terrible two. Yet at the same time he can be so gentle and loving...well with his baby niece Emmalynn anyway. Hmmm again...perhaps God warming him up to the idea of a little sister! He is now wearing the same size clothes that Joseph wore when he first came to America. Amazing...simply amazing.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A walk down memory lane

As a result of this Mama not paying attention to daycare closure due to the holiday I am spending an unexpected Monday home with the boys. Yeah for a Monday off from work, right! Well, in trying to pass the morning I pulled up some pictures and videos of the Ethiopia Court and Embassy visits and quickly had a lap full of boys. We were laughing at the antics, at how they have grown, and trying desperately to figure out what Joseph was saying. He kept sadly shaking his head and saying "I don't remember" that is until I opened the video of them with their birth Mom. There was breathtaking silence and then Joseph grabbed me and in a pleading voice said "No Mama, I want to go home!" and then "where's Mama" as he searched the video for a glimpse of me. It took me a moment to realize he meant home as in here home. There was something about that video that transported him back to that orphanage in Ethiopia. I was trying to reassure him when Jacob's attention shifted from a movie he was watching to the video and suddenly he was sobbing hysterically and clinging to me. Needless to say the video ended quickly and I spent the next hour with Jacob unwilling to get out of my lap in obvious distress and Joseph following my every footstep.
What just happened? Obviously not what I intended. I believe these two were terrified, horrified in fact that their lives were fixing to change again. So how on earth do I figure out this balance of keeping their heritage strong and sharing their adoption story, yet protecting their hearts. She was a huge player in their lives and one who deserves to be remembered and honored. Yet I feel this is my cue to leave this portion of their lives untouched until they ask. Everything I ever read said to answer questions as they came. So does that mean to never mention their Ehmyay until they do? Until now I felt it was good for them to see the pictures periodically. In the beginning in fact there seemed to be something quite soothing to Joseph about doing so. Perhaps it is the length of time that has now passed. This one I just do not know. What I do know is it feels amazing that these two call me Mama and seek comfort in my arms. I will certainly be praying through this one.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Melkam Gena

Wow, holding to traditional Ethiopian holidays was harder than expected this year. Exhausted from all of the Christmas celebrations, Gotcha Day, and New Years I found it incredibly difficult to celebrate yet another Christmas. In about as nontraditional method as you can get, the boys and I spent most of the day at home...minus gifts. We talked about it being Christmas in Ethiopia and discussed some of the ways family and friends might be celebrating. With little interest from them, I didn't push the Ethiopia discussion. Jacob honestly doesn't remember, and Joseph...well, he just clams up every time I try to get him to talk. Maybe next year.
The highlight of our day was a quick bite at Wendy's and the very first hockey game! Kathy received tickets to the Nashville Predators vs Carolina Hurricanes game that conveniently coincided with this day. We had great seats and both boys thoroughly enjoyed the game. Sports and fights are right up their alley:) We made it about 2/3 of the way through and only left because I knew they needed to get to bed. Let's say Mama needed to get to bed so therefore they did! Melkam Gena!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gotcha Day 2011

I absolutely marvel at the fact that a year has passed. There are times it feels like Joseph and Jacob have always been a part of my life and others that feel like the journey has just begun. I was fortunate enough to be off from work to spend the day (December 30) with these two and I so wish every day could be like this one. It was as if they knew it was a special day. Everyone was on their best behavior and it was so easy to feel like the family we are. We started the morning out of conveniece at the pediatrician for Jacob's last two immunizations. He was delayed due to illness but has now caught up on immunizations and has no more due until his next birthday!! What a strange feeling to know I only take them to the doctor now for healthy check-ups or in the event of illness.  Fortunate enough also (or perhaps a gift from God) was the weather. Though it wasn't quite as warm as I was hoping, we headed to the zoo from the doctor and spent the next couple of hours riding the carousel (another first) and seeing the animals. Most every animal was visible this trip so as the boys rode in the wagon I got some much needed exercise going up first one hill and then another. Next we stopped at Sonic for a bite of lunch and then home where they collapsed for a three hour nap. Kathy joined us for dinner at Margarita House...a fitting choice as this was the first restaraunt we went to on the night of their homecoming. I decided to take just one more day off from work today(Jan 2) to spend the anniversary of that homecoming with them. We did nothing special...just enjoyed a pajama day with lots of movies and playtime and my getting them back on a schedule fitting for work and school. I have learned so much from them this past year and I am so thankful for these two boys that are teaching me many lessons as we travel this adoption journey together. Happy Gotcha Day 2011! the first of many to come...

Love, love, love me some Jacob!

Always smiling! Joseph is my strong, silent, sensitive little man

Just as it was a year ago this day...Kathy has been entwined in this journey since the beginning

It only took a year to get a frameworthy picture of the three of us!!

Merry Christmas!

December 2011...what a difference a year makes, huh. Last year I struggled with the distance between me and my sons...this year I played Santa again and reveled in the fact that yes, they are home.

We had a rough month prior to and just after Christmas with first one illness and then another taking over. Jacob had a terrible virus requiring two trips to the doctor, blood work, and a chest x-ray to convince me it was just a virus (it is hard to persuade a nurse, especially one who specializes in pediatric oncology!). He ran a fever up to 105 for a solid week and just laid in my arms saying "help me Mama." Then both boys got head colds which led to Jacob's first ear infection since surgery. All was topped off by Joseph's first stomach virus and vomiting for the first time ever. Thankfully that one was short lived and did not spread beyond him. Both are well for the moment but I hold my breath every time one of them coughs!

I managed to get the boys by to see Santa Claus prior to the busy time of the season and wish I had taken a video camera. Joseph delighted in running to Santa and once I explained that this was their first Christmas here, Santa very patiently explained how Christmas worked, up to and including the reindeer pulling the sleigh. It was precious and the smile on Joseph's face priceless. Jacob managed a high five and sat in big sis Kathy's lap for a picture. Let's just say he was curious but not a fan.

Christmas celebrations began with my siblings, niece and nephew, and all of my children and grandchildren. It was one big germ fest as my two were not the only ones not feeling up to par. They wasted no time however as gifts were presented and each opened the first of many. Next came Christmas Eve at my Uncle's house where Joseph and Jacob met some family members for the first time. Christmas Eve night my older three children came over with their families and shared dinner, and gifts. Then Christmas morning David and Kathy came over to wake the boys and video and take pictures of their first American Christmas celebration. All in all a wonderful celebration with precious family time and wonderful gifts. Needless to say, the most priceless gift was having all of my children home with me this year.

The grandchildren. Michael (6), Colten (5), Kensley (4), and Emmalynn (3 months)
Joseph going to spread some reindeer food
One of those rare smiles. Jacob is very stingy with them when the camera is around.
Thanks Santa!

My children, Kathy, Amy, David, Joseph, and Jacob