My friend and Gladney buddy, Missy, of It’s Almost Naptime, is in Ethiopia right now on her family’s first trip to meet their new daughter, a darling 25-month-old little girl whom they will spend only a few hours with this week during their visit to pass court, and then hopefully go back within a couple of months to bring home for good. Missy and her husband Walker (whom I’ve been friends with since our days at Texas A & M) got on the wait list at Gladney just three months before we did, so we’ve really appreciated being able to watch each phase of their adoption journey. I’ve loved the pictures and updates she’s sent this week as they meet their daughter, and experience Ethiopia for the first time.
As part of our trips to visit Ethiopia, we are given the opportunity to visit government orphanages and see the reality of what life is like for many of the children who are not brought into care at a Gladney or other type facility. Missy’s blog post today after their visit to an orphanage makes my heart hurt, but I want to share it, because the sad truth is that children in so many countries are brought up in these conditions. You can read Missy’s post here as well. As a side note, neither Missy’s daughter, nor our future daughter reside in government facilities like this. Instead they live in a Gladney foster care center where as much as possible, they are held and loved on and played with, and are able to develop an attachment to their caregivers.
No pictures allowed
We went to visit the government orphanages today.
The one where they keep the babies, no cameras were allowed. So I can’t post a photograph of the police van driving up as soon as we arrived, nor the police women who jumped out of the back of it with a five day old baby girl, wrapped in swaddling clothes, who had been abandoned at a hospital. Which happens sometimes as many as five times a day, we were told.
I can’t show you a picture of the bleak room we entered where fifty or so children, all dressed exactly alike in white tshirts and blue pants, immediately surrounded us as we walked in. Have you ever thrown a piece of bread in a pond just to watch the ducks fight each other for it? Imagine that, but with toddlers, literally crawling our legs. They swarmed all of us, including my children, but we mothers were attacked the most voraciously, so desperate were they for a mother’s embrace. I can’t show you the face of one of them, a boy I think, as I held him tightly, but imagine the purest joy you’ve ever seen. Then another climbed my leg and I held one in each arm as they clung to me, burying their faces in my neck until they pulled away and laughed.
And I’m sorry I can’t show you a picture of the bright sunny small room at the top of the stairs where the walls were lined with cribs. Even if I could, you couldn’t hear what I heard, which, aside from the caretakers chatting to each other, was silence. Except for one chubby little girl who must have been new to the orphanage and therefore still mistakenly believed that if she cried, someone might come. She sat whimpering in her crib with a confused look on her face. In the picture I can’t show you you’d see that they were all clean and had dry diapers and were fed and appeared healthy, including the newly born, yet already orphaned babies sleeping wrapped in blankets. The other three in the small room, old enough to sit or stand, just stared at us, silently. All of them curious, except for one.
I can’t show you his picture. But he was sitting up, so he must have been about eight months old. He was wearing a hot pink sweatshirt with an American label and a diaper and he had those beautiful Ethiopian almond eyes. He did not look at us. He stared straight ahead, at nothing. I can’t show you a picture of what it looks like for tiny almond shaped eyes to be completely hopeless. I can tell you though that when I reached for him, he flinched. But as I continued to hold my arms out, he cautiously rocked his little body closer, still not looking at me. And when I picked him up he melted into my chest completely and very soon I could tell that his breathing had regulated to mine. And he felt like he was mine.
But then I had to put him down. And he cried, probably for the first time in a long time he cried, painfully cried, and I looked desperately at one of the caretakers begging her with my eyes to please, just hold him. And she did, but she almost immediately put him back in his crib. I can’t show you a picture of him banging his head against the sides of the crib in frustration. Or of the worker scooting him back and shaking her finger and fussing at him in Amharic.
Imagine him going silent again. Imagine him staring, at nothing, again.
I can’t show you a picture of the next room, which was sunny and bright, where twenty or so cribs lined the perimeter and were also paired in a line down the center, with two to four infants in each crib. You can’t see that the mattresses were raised too high for most of the children, who should have been crawling out at their ages, but weren’t. Imagine them all beautiful, perfect. Imagine half of them napping. The other half sat or laid in their cribs, empty except for their tiny bodies. No toys. Most of them were under one year, only three seemed older than that. Twin little girls were in one crib who may have been two. One little girl seemed at least three, and she sat in her crib, making no noise, just smiling shyly, on the too-high mattress.
I can’t show you a photo of my son, my firstborn, going from crib to crib, tickling, hugging, kissing, playing patty cake with each baby, just as had been done to him every day of his infancy. I can’t show you how their eyes lit up as he bent his blond head over them and gave them each a nickname: Smiley, Cutie, Jailbreak. How they tried to sit up and reach out their little brown hands to touch him. How they drooled and smiled toothless smiles at him. How their coos and giggles broke the silence in the room of fifty babies. How when he left them, they looked disappointed, but not surprised.
I’m sorry, but I can’t show you any pictures of this because the government wouldn’t let us take any photographs.
My dear friend Susan (little sis to our “Uncle Greg”) sent me a video this week. Susan and I have been friends since we were in college together at Baylor, and I am so blessed to have her in my life. Sweet Greg took this photo of us:
Susan and her family are also on an adoption journey, but she thought of us when she saw this video since it was created by a family who brought home a little 11-month old girl, Violet, from Ethiopia last year. The Amaro family blogs here, (and I am so enjoying reading their blog b/c their daughter, Violet turns two years old soon, and as you know, we will likely receive a referral for a two year old girlie ourselves!). This video was the winning entry in a contest sponsored by Adoptive Family Circle. It documents their first week together as a family of four and is just beautiful. Absolutely warms my heart to watch it, and I think it will make you smile too. Thanks, Susan!!
An old college friend sent me the link to this video…I cannot watch it without tears filling my eyes. I love Stephen Curtis Chapman’s passion and heart for the orphans of this world, both here in the US and around the globe.
Before we made the decision to adopt earlier this year, videos like this haunted me. Knowledge of the incredibly huge amounts of children who live every day with no mom or dad or family just broke my heart. It still breaks my heart, and now when I am reminded of so many children whose greatest wish for Christmas is a family, I am spurred to pray that God will provide more and more of them with homes. And that he will be their strength and their comfort while they wait.
Note: I am slowly, slowly learning the ins and outs of adding video to a blog post. My much more techno-savvy husband isn’t here right now to patiently show me how to make the video box below a wee bit smaller. But, at least I managed to add it all by myself, wahoo! Baby steps, people…
Yes, ok, well if you’ve been reading this ole blog for any amount of time, you already know that. What you may not know is that we now have a really cute tee shirt to tell everyone about it!
(And yes, what follows is a shameless advertisement for yet another cool tee which you yourself can get your hot little hands on. Exclusively at):
Jay and I have tried with each of our designs to create something we love enough to wear ourselves. So, a lot of thought and agonizing has gone into each of our logos that you see at AdoptionTee.
Well, a little while back we started working on a design that we were really excited about, but for a completely different purpose. Someone got a peek at it, and their comment was “Wow, that would make a REALLY cute tee shirt!” So…. my hubs, aka the Head Designer, quickly got to work translating the design into something that could be adapted for the Adoption Tee store.
And so it is with much enthusiasm that I give you “We’re Adding to our Nest”:
Wait, is the detail too hard to make out? Well, honestly: what can you expect from a tee shirt that stands only 3 inches tall?? In my opinion this would more appropriately be called a wee shirt, heheheheheh.
Ok, seriously, here’s a close-up (on pink this time)!
Isn’t it just perfect for someone who is adding a child to their family, whether by adoption or the biological route? Since families come in all different sizes we thought it would be fun to offer the tee in different versions…and it comes in kids’ sizes too, so you can pop one on your toddler and/or older kiddo(s) to surprise Grandma and Grandpa with the great news!
So, if you are expecting your first little bundle of joy? Try this on for size:
Or if you are maybe adding a second to your little brood:
Working on lucky #3?
Thinking that 3 isn’t quite an even enough number, so why not have a 4th?
Love bigger families and adding child #5? We’ve even got you covered!
Sooooooo we stopped at 5. However, if anyone is reading this who has more birds, I mean kids than are pictured on a shirt, and you just have to have one in your family’s size…please leave a comment either here or at
AdoptionTee (there is a place on the front page for feedback)
and let the head designer know. We are happy to fill custom orders.
And what if your family is complete and there is just no more “nesting” going on? But still…you just love birdies and gotta have you a shirt?
Or, maybe there are those of you like my tween-aged daughter who says yes she likes birds and desperately wants a birdie shirt, but maybe doesn’t want to personally wear one that advertises “adding to a nest” for various reasons….how does this one work for ya? (I like to call it “Birds but no Words”):
We have mugs, water bottles, and aprons and totes with the birdies also, sans words. Who wouldn’t want to drink their morning coffee in something this cute?
So, so many choices! I can’t say I envy any of you who are trying to pick out JUST ONE!
Well, thanks for indulging me. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta run…and go pick me out a “Nest” shirt in my size!
The designs are our own, and we currently have four different ones up to choose from. Come in, have a look around, and think about buying a T-shirt (many different styles, fits, and colors available in each design):
a tote bag:
or even a mug for that warm cup ‘o’ joe or hot chocolate!
BBQ Apron, Anyone?
And where else do you suppose you will find a frosty adoption stein to hold your favorite chilled beverage?
In all seriousness, it is our hope that these shirts and other products will appeal to folks all over who have a heart for adoption, and help encourage the message of adoption within the church.
A local Dallas church, Watermark, is holding a huge conference this weekend in partnership with Focus on the Family, Dallas CPS and area Adoption Agencies to help focus efforts on finding adoptive families for the children currently in the custody of the state of Texas.
Right now there are over 3500 kids who have legally been declared orphans living here in Texas waiting for families.
Previous efforts like this in the state of Colorado have helped to reduce the number of waiting children in that state by over half. Amazing.
For more information or to register for this event, go HERE.
I do not know the McDurham family personally, but they are friends of friends. I have seen their beautiful little daughter, Ella, featured in another publication recently. Gladney, the agency we are working with, is mentioned in the article as well.
There is a lot of background to our adoption journey. We will add bits and pieces as we think of it, and find time to write here. Jay shared both of our hearts beautifully on the topic last month in this entry.
As the two of us grappled with the idea of adopting, we received much encouragement from friends and friends of friends who, themselves have adopted, both domestically and internationally. It is absolutely amazing to watch the miracle of adoption unfold. We have had the privilege of seeing babies come home to families from many countries, including Ethiopia up close and personal at church and at school, and elsewhere. What a joy it is to see these children grow and thrive under the tender love of parents and siblings who have been so blessed to welcome them into their family.
In addition, as we were pondering and praying through adoption for our family these past many months, I read a LOT of books. A lot. I also followed quite a few blogs of families who have themselves adopted a child/children from Ethiopia. One family both wrote a book and keeps a blog; they are the Bottomlys, a couple from Oklahoma. I read their story, From Ashes to Africa
and was touched by their honesty about themselves, their marriage, their struggles. They felt like very real people as they recounted their oftentimes painful journey toward children which eventually led them to Ethiopia.
In 2007, Josh and Amy Bottomly welcomed their son, Silas Tesfamariam into their family. He is now 3 1/2 years old. The Bottomlys blog here at Ethiopia or Bust! There are some beautiful pictures of their family in this entry. Just this past week, they passed court in Ethiopia; they are now also the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl. Josh and Amy will travel in just a few short weeks to bring home Baby Olive Hiwot.
The statistics say that today in our world there are 143 million orphans. That number is so ridiculously huge that it is beyond my comprehension. Truly. I cannot even begin to get my head around it. I can however rejoice and smile at the news that as of this weekend, that number has just been reduced by one. Praise God that one more is coming home…
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, especially to my own wonderful mother whom I love dearly, and to the bestest mother-in-law any girl ever had!
I have to share an article that ran in today’s Dallas Morning News about one of our friends, who is not only an incredible mom but an amazing woman of faith that we look up to and are so blessed by. Her story is beautiful and touching and inspiring (think Blindside without the wealth, or the upscale suburbs, and with double the kids! )
It is absolutely irrelevant to this post, but interesting to note that had I moved to Texas my senior year with my family to finish out my twelfth grade year, Melissa and I would have been in the same graduating high school class just a few (and I do mean a very few) short years ago. I didn’t have the privilege of attending high school with her after all, but am so thankful that God saw fit to cross our paths here in Dallas.
Her blog (linked to the right) is one of our absolute faves, and if you have never visited, I invite you to check it out.
Ok, I admit it: I am backdating this post to squeak in my 30 posts in 30 days. My wonderful hubby whisked me out on a date last night, and so instead of catching up with you, Dear Readers, I spent some quality time with Jay – we chatted for hours over a leisurely supper of prime rib. So fun. As we sat and talked and sipped our wine, it struck me: what a blessing it is after 14 1/2 years of marriage that we can have so much fun together just talking and hanging out. I don’t ever want to take this for granted…I am so in love with and so thankful for my husband.
Last night was actually my second date of the day as I also got to spend some lovely one-on-one time with the youngest little man in my life during the afternoon. Josiah and I dropped the older three children off to try out an art class here, and then the two of us walked and talked all up and down Snider Plaza, his little hand in mine almost all of the hour and a half we spent together. We stopped by a toy store (to his delight!) and a book store (where he had a blast finding all the “Bativities” on display), had a coffee/hot chocolate break outside on a park bench, and truly enjoyed time together.
Homeschooling right now means that I don’t always spend a ton of Mommy time with just Josiah, so I cherish these little moments with him. It was a great afternoon.
And as for the other 3, they loved their first time with “Miss Casey” at A Little Artsy…which came very highly recommended, and we were not disappointed. What a welcoming and happy little studio, and Casey and her staff are sweet, talented, and wonderful with children. If you live in the Dallas area and are looking for a nurturing and unique art experience for you and/or your kiddos, give Casey a call!