Friday, January 25, 2013


Since we are ready to travel at a moment's notice, I am beginning to make preparations for Afua's arrival at home. Because she has been in an orphanage environment and due to her limited mobility, I have to go and purchase a c.r.i.b. Yes, the gal who said no more diapers and no more cribs is looking at purchasing a crib and has has lots of diapers in her future. Very funny indeed.

Afua is as tall as an average 2-3 year old, but due to lack of muscle control she is hard to carry. We are also looking at getting her a special needs stroller to use. It will make homecoming this spring much easier. These things aren't cheap, but I keep looking at used ones that might fit the bill until we get something more custom later on.

Another aspect of preparations I have felt lately is my need to simplify my life. Not an easy task as a mother of 5 but it is needed. I have evaluated my commitments, my work schedule and our family schedule and found where changes are needed. I am not taking new students as current ones graduate physical therapy. I stopped going to some regular commitments, even if it means missing out on some fun times, our home life needs to calm down a bit and I need to learn how to say no too.

I also need some serious organizational skills. It has never been my strong suit and I have lived a life that is full of procrastination and clutter. Doesn't sounds so good when I write it down, but I sincerely want to improve. I know there will be Dr appointments to make, more laundry and lots of paperwork in our future. The last part is familiar from completing two adoptions, but I have not mastered this skill either. No wonder I need to simplify my life.

My heart is so ready for her to join our family. That is one thing that needs no preparations.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Travel Update

We received an update on the documents we are waiting for. Our coordinator thinks all documents (birth certificate and court documents) will be ready within 2 weeks. The next step is to begin the orphan investigation at the Embassy which is said to take 30-60 days. Sometimes children with medical needs are investigated quicker, but we are not sure if our case will be. So I am preparing my heart for the grueling 60 day wait. Last time, it was the hardest part of our adoption and the time where I checked my emails 5 million times a day. At least.

The process starts with an appointment at the Embassy as Eric files all required papers. They then investigate all documents, make sure our daughter meets the criteria of an orphan (which she does) and make sure everything has been done ethically. We welcome the investigation to ensure all adoptions remain ethical, but of course we hope this part goes quickly.

While in Ghana, Eric hopes to address some of Afua's health concerns as well. We are Afua's legal parents now, so we can make those decisions for her. Healthcare is a cash based business in Ghana so he must decide what test we can afford, what can wait until later and what we think is best for her. It's a big responsibility, but he is more than capable.

Eric will also go to the Fern House and assist in any way he can. I want him to see the work that is done there and get to know everyone as we did. I know he will be presented with many opportunities to serve and he is the type of guy to jump in and help. I can't wait to hear the many stories he returns with.

We should finalize our travel dates soon. It's funny that we are so completely relaxed about the fact that he could be gone in less than 2 weeks and we don't have tickets yet. This is the world of international adoption!

Friday, January 18, 2013


As I sat down to write a post about Jake, I can't help but think about all that he has experienced this year. He gained a twin brother and a little sister. He offered to share his room, his toys and everything imaginable with a brother he didn't know. He doted on his little sister who wanted nothing to do with him for many months. But he tried, patiently to cultivate this sibling relationship. Because that is the gentle big brother that he is.

You can see him beaming, and Joy...well she tolerated this affection somewhat:)

But it wasn't long until these two were inseparable. Out of all 4, they became the closest. She would wake up and yell "Jakob, it's time to play" and he would wake up with a smile on his face.

Jake has many talents and wonderful qualities. But as I think about him, compassion rises to the surface. He is an engineer in the making, just like his Daddy and he loves to build and create. His wishes are simple but always so meaningful. He organizes our family game nights, which are his favorite. He doesn't demand attention to himself, but so appreciates it when it's his turn. Oh, how I love this boy.

Happy Birthday my sweet son! Don't ever change!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I love good news!

Today is Jake's 8th birthday. I hope to do a post soon about my wonderful second born, who has a huge heart and incredible patience. His world was flipped upside down when he received a twin and a little sister. Especially when he adored (and still does) his little sister and she wanted nothing to do with him initially. Now they are best buddies, but he had to be so patient with her. Maybe this weekend I will find a moment to share about my awesome boy.

Today while Jake received attention and gifts, I received a gift as well. Our court decree was printed and I received a scanned copy of these very important papers. I love the red seal (makes it look so official and important) and this is the first official document where Afua has our last name! She is forever bonded to our family! I cried when I looked at it. Such a miracle considering we were hoping to go to court this month.

As soon as we get the "all clear" we will book Eric's ticket to Ghana. It looks very affordable right now (when considering flying to Africa) and I pray it stays that way.

It's been a good day!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


This week, I had some very special people who care about Afua make sure our adoption process didn't come to a stop. In a weeks time, we raised the remaining funds needed to be fully funded on our agency fees. Considering that we began the adoption process 4 months ago, I am absolutely thankful and filled with praise!

We have 2 trips ahead of us before our sweet princess comes home. Eric will be going soon (as soon as our court decree is printed) to file our i600 at the US Embassy which begins the orphan investigation. They make sure our case is ethical and that Afua is an orphan. We have no concern over this, and appreciate that each case is verified and investigated. Eric will also take Afua to a hospital to be evaluated and make sure her seizures (or whatever is going on) are under control while we wait for her to come home.

Our last trip will be the most fun. Homecoming!!!

So although we are fully funded with our wonderful agency, we have a little more to save and fundraise before the entire adoption is fully funded. Once again, thank you to our village who care about our girl so much and want to see her in our family.

My favorite Blogs

I used to love watching reality television. Not the kind where people make absolute fools of themselves, but the kind where you get to know how people live. And how they view the world around them. To me, that is fascinating. Like why anyone would live in remote areas of the world or generally live a very different way from other. And that is a huge reason why I love reading blogs. You can tell when people are authentic and willing to share even the tough things as they happen. Or when their life is lived serving others and making this world a bit better. Here are a few of my favorite blogs and I am always glad to find a new post from them. I hope you share some of your favorites with me, I am always looking for new ones to read.

Two Hoots and A Holler

This is as real as it gets. I love this blog and getting a glimpse into their life. Abiella was Afua's "crib mate" at the orphanage and we connected as they were finishing their adoption and we were just beginning. A wife of a musician, a first time Momma to her special girl, what could be better? I secretly wish we could be neighbors.

A Thankful Mom

Want some honesty about older child adoption and what it means to do "whatever it takes" for your child? How about wisdom that can only be acquired by parenting 12 children at various stages in life? Lisa is walking a difficult journey with grace and sharing about it in a beautiful way.

Ni Hao Y'all

This blog has the most beautiful photography. Her family is gorgeous, her surroundings are gorgeous, heck even her horse is gorgeous. Seriously, go and meet Poet. And the content is beautiful, encouraging and inspirational too.

Rileys in Uganda

I love adoption and transforming orphans into sons and daughters. But what happens when you adopt and realize that many children living in orphanages in Uganda actually have living parents? And with support, they could return to their families? Or be adopted domestically and maintain their culture? I love the innovative way the Rileys reunite children with their families, fight to change the stereotypes and work within the system in Uganda.

Tiny Green Elephants

This family adopted two children from Russia. I love reading how the children are attaching to their family and how they are intentional about making memories. This blog is perfect if you are considering adopting out of birth order or adopting an older child. It really isn't as scary as some people make it out to be:)

The Full Plate

I was hooked on this blog from the first time I read it. They are a fellow Ghana adoptive family, (as well as China and domestic adoption) which is how I found the blog, but what kept me reading was      the honesty when sharing about adopting older children, children with special needs and living life as a family of 10. Their latest addition, Dolly joined the family from China a few months ago.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

There is no whining in joy :)

After experiencing one adoption journey, my one regret was being so miserable at times. Sure, it's normal to miss my children and hope that they are safe and at home with us, but my attitude wasn't always the best. I wasn't fun to be around when I felt things were moving too slowly or my poorly managed expectations manifested in different ways. And in the year we knew about our children and worked actively on bringing them home, so much life happened. And I didn't always approach those events with the joy they deserved.

Once we learned about Afua, I knew that if she was to be ours and if we were to adopt her, I would approach this journey so differently. I would find joy in the journey even during the bumps and the tough parts. It was a challenge I set for myself and I hope this "exercise" would apply to other areas of my life.

All things considered, I have found so much joy as we have made our way to adopting Afua. While we are proactive about affording the adoption, I also know creating a stressful environment at home due to finances isn't helping anyone (btw, we are less than $800 away from being paid on our agency fees if anyone would feel led to help us to get there). I had a wonderful travel to Ghana with Emmi and even though we couldn't bring Afua home, so many wonderful things happened on that trip.

But can I just whine for a teeny moment? Tonight is one of those moments where I am starting to forget the little noises Afua makes and how she feels when I hold her. And the way she squints her eyes when she focuses on a persons face in order to see them. I was sure that all these things about her would be forever in my memory, but memories fade. And it hurts to forget. I pulled up videos of our trip and some memories resurfaced. I miss her dearly. Our next trip can't come soon enough.

Ok, I am done whining for now. I know so many wonderful things are happening every day and I have 4 children to experience them with.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

From My Travel Journal: Travel Home

By the time this week was over, I missed my 3 little ones at home. Skype calls are wonderful but no substitute for hugs and kisses. According to Eric, everything had been going smoothly but he was ready for me to return too. We are a family that spends most of our evenings and weekends together so when we are on two continents, it just isn't the same.

Leaving this airport is never easy or uncomplicated. This is our family's 4th time and each time it has been different. There is a line to inspect luggage, then there is a line to weigh the luggage, then there is a line to check passports and then finally you can check in at the counter. Each step they give you various papers to hold and I am always confused what to give to each person.

Somehow we managed to get through the entire process and we had a couple of hours to spare. Emmi once again proved to be the best travel partner. She loves the ENTIRE process, hanging out at airports, browsing through shops, even jet lag. She takes it all in and her joy is contagious.

I have to be honest here and say that I had been holding back tears and emotions. It has been too much to process. I know I will analyze it all later, but for now I am glad for the peace in my heart.

We landed in Amsterdam (or as Joy says "hamster dance") early in the morning. I rushed to Starbucks and sipped on my latte while Emmi got McDonalds. It was something like 6am but they had quarter pounders and fries ready made. She was a happy girl! Then we got a slice of Dutch apple pie, yumm!!! As I was sitting, I thought "I have one daughter in Africa, I am sitting with one in Europe and I have 3 children in North America". How can a mothers heart be split between 3 continents? At that moment mine was and the piece at I left in Africa was the toughest one. Eric was taking great care of e little ones, Emmi was with me, but little "A" had no one.

All our flights were smooth and uneventful. Last one was a shorty at 45 minutes and finally we were home. I rushed into my husbands arms and finally felt like I could cry. He is my rock and I know I could just lean on him. I was home. And hopefully soon, little "A" would be home too.

Our Christmas

Our Christmas was full of wonder and excitement. Kofi and Joy experienced their first Christmas in America and even with trying to keep it simple, it was overwhelming at times.

 We don't make a huge deal out of Santa, but our 4 found their stockings filled, new sleds and one gift each waiting for them as they woke up.

Their gifts from us (which they knew about ahead of time) were something they WANT, something they NEED, something to WEAR and something to READ. This is something they needed: shoes, soccer cleats, and somehow Joy has a princess wand in her hand. It may very well be something she needed :)
Before long, the boys were playing a new DS game that Kofi wanted. Eric and I just watched and enjoyed the spirit of cooperation that was present in the house at the moment. 

After presents, all 4 wanted to go try out their sleds. We had the hill to ourselves and it was fun family time.
And I enjoyed a warm drink and time with my favorite people. It was wonderful

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What a Year!

I am writing this as less than 2 hours remain in the year 2012. Last year this time, I was longing for my two children in Ghana. I wanted to see them, hold them and finally welcome them into our family.

2/14/2012 Joy and Kofi joined our silly family and we began a journey to healing, thriving and learning. All of us have changed and stretched our ability to love and care for one another. They have blessed us and we have all grown closer.

And later this year, I saw the face of my daughter. As much as I wasn't actively looking to adopt again, my heart remained open to the possibility. Now I am glad I didn't miss out on this little blessing.

I have had a year where strangers have become close friends and some close friends have become strangers. It's been hard to experience changes, but sometimes it's needed to grow.

This was a year of growth for our entire family, but the award for "most growth" (if there is such thing) goes to my first born. Not only did she have 2 new younger siblings overnight, she has openly welcomed another one alongside with us. And she has begged to be able to go to Ghana to visit her siblings homeland and meet her baby sister. And in meeting people, holding babies and listening and learning, she has completely amazed me.
Out of 30-something years of my life, I can say 2012 has changed me the most, stretched me the most and blessed me the most. Can't wait to experience all that 2013 has in store. A new daughter and hopefully more stamps in my passport.