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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monthly Update!

Today, Garth and I got our monthly update from Caitlin! The e-mail had 4 pictures attached of our boys (wearing the Christmas hats that we had sent with their last care package) along with a couple documents of information about the boys which included their height, weight, head circumference, eating and health information, developmental and physical assessment, personality and other comments. The first thing that I noticed when I looked at the assessments were their names. They said J**** Druckenmiller and S**** Druckenmiller! It was so much fun to see our last name with theirs! It made it more real somehow. :-)

In addition to the information listed above, they also answered questions that I had submitted at the end of November. One of the questions that I had asked was what Jeremiah's Ethiopian name meant. Sadly, no one knew. When we go for our court date, Garth and I will hopefully get to meet with their biological dad so I'll ask him to see if he knows. One piece of information that I was THRILLED to hear about was that Jeremiah is HEALTHY! I was so glad to hear that he was over his URTI. Both boys weigh about 30 pounds and Jeremiah is about 34 inches tall and S*** is about 31.5 inches tall. I will again submit 5 more questions for each boy that will be answered at the end of January. We get monthly updates at the end of every month until the month of our court date.

We still haven't heard when our court date is, but hopefully we will know before our next monthly update. Pray for news soon, PLEASE!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Care Packages #4

On new year's day, our 4th care packages will be on their way to Ethiopia with Scott and Rachel Miller from Oklahoma. They will be on their way to pick up their baby girl, Aamina. While they are there, they will be giving our boys their next presents! This time we got the boys some stockings with candy and toys in them, 2 shirts each, some Christmas whistles, and a couple John Deere tractors, a corral, and a pig, horse, and cow that we will divide between the two boys.

One thing that I'm really excited about is an Ethiopian Christmas party that will be held sometime next week. Ethiopia uses a different calendar than we do and so their Christmas falls on January 7. One of the moms in our group used to be an event planner at Disney World so when she found out that there would be a Christmas party, she got busy! Several of her friends in the event planning business donated 4 bins of items to take with her for the party. All the kids at the transition homes will be getting presents on Christmas. How wonderful is that! I can hardly wait to get the pictures and they haven't even left yet.

Jeremiah's 4th care package

S***'s 4th care package

Both together

Ready to be boxed up!

Last week of 2010

I can't believe that this is the last year of 2010! It has gone by very quickly...but also agonizingly slow. I hope you all had a very blessed Christmas with your family and friends. Garth and I had a very low-key Christmas...in fact, I worked 8 hours of overtime Christmas day (OT pay, holiday pay, weekend pay, and incentive makes for a very nice check). I was excited to be able to do that because that means more money going into our adoption fund! Then yesterday we had lunch at a new to us restaurant in Omaha, Blue Sushi Sake Grill. They have happy hour prices all day on Sunday so that just added to the enjoyment. Our favorite there was the crunchy l.a. Delicious!

Over the weekend I spent a lot more time on Facebook because I was enjoying all the pictures that people were posting of their Christmas celebrations, all the happy status updates, the videos that people were posting, etc. I also kept thinking about how different our Christmas would be next year with two boys home with us. I can hardly wait for that! While I was on FB, another family adopting from Ethiopia had a post offering their FB friends and family to send a little Merry Christmas post to their future daughter, and since I totally loved that idea, I decided to do it as well! I am going to save all of the messages and put them in our boys life books. Since I know that not everyone is on Facebook, I wanted to open this opportunity up to my blog friends as well. You can either leave a comment on this blog post or you can e-mail them directly to me at cdruckenmiller@gmail.com.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

As Christmas day approaches, I have been thinking a LOT about Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Christmas story is especially precious to me this year because we are also anxiously anticipating the arrival of our sons. Through the years I have thought about Mary and what thoughts and feelings she might be having. One thing stood out to me this year that I didn't notice before...Mary's acceptance right away. When Gabriel told Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would give birth to the Christ child, Mary said "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." Mary had complete trust and accepted it without question. I would imagine that she had several questions swirling around in her brain (Why me? What will Joseph think? What will my parents think? Will they disown me? What will my friends say? What will childbirth be like?). Instead, she just accepted it and trusted God to get her through whatever lies ahead, knowing that He was in charge and wouldn't let her down.

I wish I had the faith of Mary. This week has been especially hard for me because I really wanted to know our court date before Christmas. Well, that didn't happen. I also really miss my boys. Christmas is a time of being together with family, spending time together, playing with new toys, opening presents under the Christmas tree, etc. But half of our family is in Africa and that hurts. I know that God's timing is perfect...that has been demonstrated over and over again, but it doesn't lessen the pain of the separation, the unknown, the frustrations of having to wait on others before finally getting to see our boys. So please say a prayer for us and the other adopting families to have patience, peace, and to remember that even in our hardest moments, we are not alone...God is always with us.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Health Update e-mail

This morning, I got an e-mail from our family coordinator that I was really hoping not to get. It was a health update on Jeremiah and it said that he has a URTI (upper respiratory tract infection) and is being treated with Amoxicillin syrup and Dextrokuf (which I think is a cough syrup). This kind of illness is very common in orphanages (just like in day cares here). I know that he will get better, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier. So, please pray that he gets healed quickly and that our S**** doesn't get it also. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Fundraiser Tab

I wanted to direct your attention to two "new" things on our blog. One actually isn't new, but it has been missing for a few weeks...our PayPal donate link. We had to take it down while we had our iPad raffle going on, but now that it's over, we can have it back! The other new thing is our fundraiser tab. From now on, all our fundraisers will be on that page instead of along the side of the blog. Feel free to take a look!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Adoption Families of the Week

OK, so I know it's Monday night and usually I have the Featured family post up in the morning. Well, this week I wanted to do something a little different. This week, most of us will be spending Christmas with our family and friends, celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior. Therefore, I didn't want to focus on one specific family, instead I wanted to focus on every family who has adopted, is adopting, or will adopt in the future. I know that not everyone understands why we put ourselves through all the paperwork, the interviews, the highs, the lows, the delays, the emotional struggles, and ultimately the joy of bringing our children home. I can tell you that it is NOT for the faint of heart. Every family will tell you that there WILL be something that doesn't go according to your plan, and often there will be several things that will hold things up. Most families will also have to scrimp and save every way they can, some will have fundraisers, many will apply for loans, grants, etc.  Many will wipe out their saving accounts, 401ks, cash out CDs and IRAs to be able to bring their children home. They will shed many tears but also rejoice when they get the dossier completed, get a referral, court date, and Embassy date, and when they can finally come home with their children. Before they get a referral they pray for the children that will someday be a part of their family. When they finally get a referral, they will be able to pray for them by name. Their hearts will break when they get the news that their children are ill and they can't go to them to wipe away their tears, swab their forehead with a cool compress, give them chicken noodle soup, or anything they can think of to make their child feel better. So why do we put ourselves through this? Because we have the heart of our Father God beating in our chest. We wish that we could find a home for every orphan that we meet. We look at our lives and wonder what we could get rid of to help us save more money so we can bring 1, 2, 3, or more children to be in our family. When we read John 14:18 that says "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you" we know that WE are the ones who will fulfill that...as many times as we possibly can. So I would like to thank all the people who open their hearts and homes to these children whose parents have either died or can't afford to keep them AND for those who help us along the way prayerfully, emotionally, and financially for "whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40 The Message)

Straight No Chaser - 12 Days (original from 1998)



My brother sent me an e-mail with this video. The last verse I think was written just for me!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And the iPad winner is..... (pause music at the very bottom of our blog)

video
Congratulations Jane! Garth and I would like to thank each and every person for their donation for this iPad. We are overwhelmed by the generosity this time of year. The iPad cost us about $530 and we received $1625, which gives us a profit of almost $1100! We can't tell you how excited that makes us!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A new perspective

So yesterday was kind of a hard day for some of us because of the news that our court date wouldn't be until March. I will admit I had a little pity party for myself and the other families who got the same type of e-mail. Well this morning I was reading AWAA's blog and there was an article from a family who adopted from China that changed my whole outlook on waiting another month for our court date. Garth and I started this journey in December 2009 when we sent in our application to AWAA. Less than a year later we got our referral for our sweet boys and we will hopefully have them home within 18 months of beginning this journey. The article that I read today was from a family in Tennessee who started the adoption journey on October 15, 2005 for a little girl in China. The wait time then was 12 to 14 months. After they started, China's adoption program slowed significantly and this family ended up waiting 57 months...that is 4 years 9 months...from application to getting their little girl from China. After I read that article I felt very ashamed. After all, if this family can wait for almost 5 years for their little girl, I can certainly wait one more month.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Court Update

Well, this morning we got an e-mail from our travel coordinator, Kristen, with some news about court. As you know, we were hoping and praying that our court date would be in February because Ethiopian Airlines is having a special price that month of $777 plus tax for a nonstop flight to Ethiopia from the US. Well....it doesn't look like we'll be getting to have that option. The e-mail from Kristen this morning in part said:

Dear Garth and Carmen,

As you wait for a court date we are writing to update you that we are currently seeing court dates issued for early March. We anticipate future dates to be issued around or after that time and would like to prepare your family for this timeframe for your court date. Your court case is currently open and we are currently in the process of waiting for a date for your family.


That obviously was not the news we wanted to hear, but I know that God is in control and His timing is perfect...even if we can't see it right away. On a positive note, we will have that much more time to get things ready for the boys. Garth's birthday is also in March so maybe we'll be in Ethiopia together for his birthday. That would be a FANTASTIC birthday present, I think!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010


Dear family and friends:                                                                           

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I hope this letter finds you all doing well. I haven’t sent a Christmas letter for a while but the most interesting things have happened this past year.  

I am working for Methodist Health Systems as a medical transcriptionist, being able to work from home, which I love. Methodist has been a very good company to work for and I am blessed to have a job that has flexible hours and I can work in my pajamas sometimes.

Garth continues to work for Smeal Fire Apparatus in Snyder, Nebraska full time in addition to work that he gets occasionally from his former employer in New Jersey and some other people around town.  He has recently started a business with Numis Network which deals with gold and silver coins.

Garth and I attend church in Omaha at LifeGate Church, formerly Trinity. We both love attending there and have made some good friends. This past fall, I was able to work on my childcare skills by working in the 1 to 2-year-old room twice a week during a women’s Bible study called Hearts, and Moms and Little Ones (an alternative to MOPS). It was so much fun!

In February of this year, my mom (Linelle), Rita (a very dear friend), Garth, and I went on a 2+ week trip to Australia to visit our wonderful friend, Betty Shepherd. Betty comes to Nebraska every fall for a women’s retreat called Friends Forever that Mom, Rita, and I attend, among other women. She has been doing this for as long as I can remember (over 20 years, I think) and she has wanted someone to come to Australia. Well, we finally did it! One of my dreams was to go to Australia so Garth and I started saving our air miles from the time we got married so we could go using those. We flew out of Omaha on February 13 and arrived back in Nebraska on March 1. While there, we spent time in Sydney, Newcastle (which is where Betty lives), Lemontree Passage (where Betty has a house right on Port Stephens), Alice Springs (in the Outback), and got to see Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock). I have attached some pictures at the end of this letter of Australia. It was a wonderful trip…and one I hope to make again someday. I wrote a daily diary of our trip so if anyone would like to read it, let me know and I’d be happy to share.

As wonderful as that trip was, even more exciting has been our adoption journey.  Last December we applied to America World’s Ethiopia program and were accepted on December 10. About a month later, we received our dossier information packet from our family coordinator, Caitlin, and the paper pregnancy began. We were finally DTE (dossier to Ethiopia) on September 3, 2010. We had requested either a sibling group of two from ages 0-5 or two unrelated children with one being 0-2 and the other being 5. On November 5, 2010, we received a referral for two brothers, J*** who is 4 and S*** who turned 3 on Thanksgiving. I WISH I could show you their picture and tell you their names, but until we pass court we can’t post that information on the internet anywhere. I can tell you that we have decided to change J***’s name to Jeremiah. S***’s name is fairly common in the US so we will keep his the same. Jeremiah will have his Ethiopian name as a middle name, so it will be Jeremiah J***-Ned Druckenmiller and S**** will be S*** Theodore Druckenmiller. For those who don’t know us personally, we chose those names because I always wanted to incorporate the grandparent’s names into our children’s names. My dad’s name is Ned and Garth’s dad’s name is Theodore.

We are currently waiting to hear when our court date is and we are praying that we will find out SOON. Once we know when that all-important date is, we will make arrangements to travel to Ethiopia to meet them and go to court. After the court date week, we will do one of two things. Our first option is to fly back to the US to wait until our Embassy appointment has been assigned and then I would fly back for that appointment and then bring the boys back home with me. The 2nd option (which is what I am hoping to do) is to stay in Ethiopia between the court dates. I would stay in a guest home with our boys for the 5-12 weeks until an Embassy appointment has been assigned, and then travel back to the United States together. I would prefer this choice because for one, it’s going to be simply excruciating to leave them there and come home without them. Putting that aside, however, if I can stay I would be able to start bonding with J*** and S*** so it will be easier on them when I do bring them home. They will begin to learn that I will take care of them, meet their needs, hold them when they are sad, feed them, love them, etc. Also, my hope is that we will be able to speak to Garth through Skype several times a week so they will get to know him more than if we both came back to the United States. When we do come back home, if you would like to meet J*** and S*** right away, you are more than welcome to meet us at the airport. Just let us know that you would like to do that and we will send you the details when we know them. We are not going to be able to have a lot of people over at our house right away because the boys will need time to adjust, learn the rules, learn that we are their primary caregivers, etc. We will also have some adjustments to make! 

If you aren’t already and would like to follow our journey, you may do so on our blog at www.DruckenmillerFamily.blogspot.com. There is also a place on there that you can sign up to receive our blog updates by e-mail.  On our blog you can see our timeline, our fundraisers, and every week we also feature other adoptive families from America World. I also have an adoption fundraiser blog that showcases different fundraisers for many different families, so check that out at www.OneStopAdoptionShop.blogspot.com. There are some really great things on there and every purchase will help families bring their child(ren) home.

I hope you had a great 2010 and we look forward to having a FABULOUS 2011!

Love,

Garth and Carmen Druckenmiller

Our new friends!


Cass Howden and Betty Shepherd...the best hosts ever!

Sydney Opera House

Mom (Linelle), Cass, me, Garth, Rita, and Betty with Sydney Harbor Bridge

Garth and me on the beach

The view from Betty's house on Port Stephens

On a date at Scratchleys on the Wharf in Newcastle, Australia

Garth feeding a rock wallaby

Rita in front of Uluru

Rita and Mom outside the Cultural Center at Uluru

Cass feeding kangaroos at Oakvale Farm and Fauna

I think this kangaroo is about to kiss Mom!

Mom petting Matilda the koala at Oakvale

Me, Mom, Betty, Cass, and Rita in Sydney


Garth petting a koala
Mom feeding a rock wallaby

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Care Packages #3!

It's amazing how fast time can go...and how slow it can go at the same time. While it seems to be taking FOREVER to find out when our court date is, I couldn't believe it when Caycee Coffield said yesterday that she would be leaving for Ethiopia in 8 days. Since she is taking our next care package, I needed to hurry up and shop! Well thankfully, Alco was having a 20% off sale yesterday, so last night Garth and I went shopping, and we found a LOT of stuff. We were even able to find things that will go into future care packages. Since Caycee will be in Ethiopia over Christmas, I had originally wanted to wrap some of the presents, but as you can see in the pictures below, the ziploc bags are stuffed to the max, so I wasn't able to wrap anything, but I don't think the boys will mind. The other thing that I have been wanting to get them is some new clothes. Paige Alleca, who took our first care package, came back recently and sent us new pictures and also told us what size clothes she thought they would wear. Thanks Paige!

So for Jeremiah, we got a pair of jeans, two "Cars" t-shirts, one with Mater and the other with Lightening McQueen, a reindeer hat, candy canes, fruit snacks, and to help combat all that sugar, a toothbrush and toothpaste.

We also got S*** a pair of jeans, a t-shirt with Buzz Lightyear, a yellow t-shirt with cars on it, a snowman hat, candy canes, fruit snacks, and again a toothbrush and toothpaste.

I really wish we could be with the boys over Christmas, but since we can't, at least I know they will get presents!

Merry Christmas boys!

Jeremiah's 3rd care package...Bella was interested in the new items as well.

Jeremiah's present wrapped up...under Smokey's supervision.

S*** 3rd care package

Both packages are ready to be boxed up!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #16-The Martine Family!

The adoption family of the week this week is Doug and Cristie Martine from San Antonio, Texas. They have been married since March 14, 1998 and have 3 children, Canyon, 10, Dakota, 8, and Maliah, 4, who they adopted from China. They have felt since coming home from China in 2006 that they may not be done adopting. Shortly after America World opened the Ethiopia program, they began talking about adopting from there. Over the next four years they kept asking "When", but never heard the word to go...until recently Doug said at the dinner table that he knew it was time to GO and their journey to Ethiopia began. On July 26, 2010, they sent in their application to America World and became DTE on December 9! They are going to be adopting a little 3 to 5-year-old boy that they will name Levi. Let's pray that they have a very short wait for their referral! You can read their entire story on their blog here.

They have a few different fundraisers going on. They are putting together a puzzle for Levi that will have the names of those who sponsor a piece on the back of it so he will be able to see who all helped to bring him home. To sponsor a piece, you can buy a t-shirt here (on the left side of their blog), buy 2 lbs. of coffee here, or just donate $10 to sponsor one puzzle piece.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Care Packages #2!

On Saturday, December 11, our 2nd care packages will be flying to Ethiopia under the care of Amy and Lee Adkins. They are going to finally see their new baby boy and have their court date on December 16.  While there, they will also get to see our sweet boys and give Jeremiah and S* their 2nd care packages! This time we gave Jeremiah some "Cars" stickers, stencils, two paddleballs, some little airplanes, 2 noisemaker tubes, and a 3D view-master with Toy Story 3 and Thomas the Tank Engine reels. For S*, we got stencils, two paddleballs, 2 noisemaker tubes, a noisy car, bubbles, and stickers of Sesame Street and Toy Story 3.

I have already found someone who will be in Ethiopia over Christmas, and I'm hoping to be able to send some new clothes for them, and I plan on wrapping some of their gifts so they can open Christmas presents from their Mom and Dad. I LOVE saying that!

S*'s 2nd care package

Jeremiah's 2nd care package

Packed up and ready to be shipped!

PayPal update

This morning when I came downstairs, I noticed that our answering machine light was blinking. When I pressed play, there was no message so I checked the caller ID and it said "PayPal". I was almost happy that I hadn't answered it after all the problems we have been having. I wondered, though, what they were calling about so I decided to log in to our PayPal account. The past couple days when I did this the first page that came up told us that our account was in a limited status and we had to do something to resolve it. So today when I logged in, I was pleasantly surprised to see:

Your Account Access is Fully Restored

Thank you for taking the steps to restore your account access. Your patience and efforts increase security for our entire community of users.

PayPal takes the safety of your account, business, and financial data as seriously as you do, and these ongoing checks of our system contribute to our high level of security.

HALLELUJAH! I'm not going to put the Donate link up until the iPad giveaway is over, but I will after that (on December 20). So, if you want to participate in our giveaway, you will need to either mail us the donation (see address in previous blog), bring it over, or make arrangements for us to pick it up in the Oakland, Fremont, and Omaha areas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Payment options for iPad

Apparently in the state of Nebraska, a raffle is considered gambling, which Paypal does not allow. Therefore, we have had to remove our Chip-In link as well, and we will no longer be able to accept PayPal donations. So, if you would like to enter into the iPad raffle, you can send us a check, cash, or money order to: 111 N Engdahl Ave, Oakland, NE 68045. The drawing will still be held on December 19 so to ensure we receive your payment, I would suggest mailing it no later than Thursday, December 16. We do frequently go to Fremont and Omaha so if you live there, we would be happy to have you hand us your entries as well.  Of course if you live here in Oakland, we would be happy to have you drop by or we would even come to you for it. :-)

Due to the inconvenience of having to mail the money, those of you who mail your entry will get one extra chance per $10 received. So that means, $10 will get two entries, $20 will get three entries, $50 will get seven entries, and $100 will get sixteen entries.  This only applies to mailed entries, however. We have already had quite a few entries so don't stop now! Every dollar that we get will go towards bringing our boys home!

Walking Testimony clothing

I wanted to let you know that our Walking Testimony fundraiser is still going on and even better than ever now! For all orders over $30, you will get FREE SHIPPING! Also, after every 5 orders that are made, there will be a drawing held for a $20 e-gift certificate to the shop! So check it out today and order those shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, caps, and beanies here!

Just one of the awesome hoodies that are available!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #15-The Wages!



Tony and Tracy Wages are from outside Columbia, South Carolina. They have three biological children, Seth (10), Braeden (7), and their daughter Addison (5). They are requesting a baby girl and have been waiting for a referral since they were DTE on August 27, 2010.

Tracy and Tony were high school sweethearts and have been married for 14 years. Tracy began volunteering with Compassion International several years back and soon after, felt the call to travel to Ethiopia to see their work there and be more effective in her ministry. She spent 10 days there, never having been outside the Eastern US, with 30-some other strangers falling completely in love with the land, people, and children.

Several months after coming home, she was driving down the road thinking how she would love to take Tony back with her to show him all she saw in Ethiopia.  She immediately heard that still, small voice in her head say, "You will when you go back to get your little girl."  She burst into tears. She then came home to tell Tony and they both agreed.  With 3 kids already, this was BIG.  They were finished having kids, were comfortable in their lives, and had never had a desire or thought of adopting. Tony had been a foster child and was adamant that he could not deal with fostering and having to give a child back, knowing what he had gone home to so many times.

After 2 weeks of much prayer (trying to talk God out of it??!!??), Tracy was on a blog, linked to another blog, linked to another blog, and divinely ended up, of course, on an article about Ethiopian adoption. The last sentence said in bold "Go. Leave behind the life you planned. Seek out the orphan. Don't ask God ONE MORE TIME if you should adopt. Because, he's been asking YOU.... who WILL?" At that point the decision was made to follow God's leading.

They started this process over a year ago for an infant girl, to keep their children in birth order, and give Addison a sister - enough testosterone already!!!!  They have had every delay, every frustration, every attack possible it seems. But through it all, they have seen God work so mightily and so abundantly that they KNOW this is His will and they feel so blessed that he chose them to walk this path.

They have named their baby girl Olivia.  They wanted a name to make her more 'real' so that the children would have someone to envision and pray for. Braeden suggested Olivia and it seemed perfect as olive oil is seen as a symbolism of the Holy Spirit - and the Holy Spirit is not only what led them to go to Ethiopia, but to have the desire to go back and bring home their baby that they know God has waiting for them. They were DTE on August 27 and have been waiting for their referral since then. You can follow their story here on their blog so check it out today!

For fundraisers, they have beautiful bracelets (see below) and necklaces, stuffed zebras and giraffes made in Kenya, banana leaf Santa ornaments also made in Kenya, soaps, coconut oil, Shea aloe butter, and mango butter that you can order here. They also have a Just Love Coffee store so if you are out of coffee, you can buy some here. Let's really bless the Wages' this week and order some of their products for Christmas!

These bracelets are made in Mali and are $5 each. There are others as well!

Some of the soaps and coconut oil available

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Update on iPad!!!!!

Hey everyone! I had to change the payment method for the iPad raffle so instead of looking for "Donate", you can click the "Chip In" link on the left. After you click it, you will be directed to a payment page where you can enter the amount of your donation. Don't worry about filling in the quantity because we will know how many you will get based on your donation. Thank you to all of you who have already submitted your donation! It means so much to us!

One month referral-versary!

It has been one month since we first saw the pictures of our sweet boys and as I think back to that day, I can't believe it's been a month already, but there have been days that seemed to take for...e...ver. This month Garth and I have started preparing for Jeremiah and S*** by getting some bunk beds off Craig's list, getting another car seat, two car booster seats (we're not sure what type they will need to be in yet), and two kitchen booster seats. I have also been watching some online training classes from Adoption Learning Partners that I have enjoyed.

We don't know yet when our court date will be, but I am tentatively guessing mid to late February. I am secretly (well, not anymore) hoping to be able to be in Ethiopia over Valentine's day so we can love on our boys on the day that love is celebrated.

My mom asked me yesterday how much more money we would need for our adoption, so I figured that if she was curious, there might be others who are curious as well. The price of the airfare is, of course, an estimation, but here is a rough estimate.

International Program Fee $3750 (this is because we are adopting two children at once)
Airfare (2 adults) $2400 to $4000
Airfare (2 children) $500 to $1000
Visas (2 adults) $40*
Visa/Embassy Fee (2 children) $800
In-Country Travel Package (2 adults) $1400 to $2000
Extended In-Country Stay package $3000 to $6500 (for 6-12 weeks in country)*

So at the high end we still have $18,090 to go, but we are praying that we will be at the low end which is $11,890. You will notice that I put stars next to the Visa amount and the in-country extended stay package. I am hoping and praying that we will be able to afford for me to stay in Ethiopia between our court date and Embassy date. Recently, it has been about 5-7 weeks that families have had their Embassy appointment after they pass court. If I can stay, then I will need to get a 2-year visa which I think is $75, so that price would be increased to $95. The extended in-country stay package includes a place to stay in a guest home there in Addis Ababa, some meals, transportation when needed, etc. I also recently found out that Ethiopian Airlines is celebrating the delivery of a B777-200LR and to mark the beginning of a NON-STOP flight from USA to East Africa, they are having a "1-week" special to be sold December 16-25, 2010 where flights to be taken in FEBRUARY are only $777 per person plus tax. So will you pray with me that we will find out before December 16 that our court appearance is in February?

Why do I want to stay in a third-world country for that time period? Well the obvious answer is so I don't have to leave our boys, but mostly I would like to be able to begin the bonding process with them in their environment. If I can stay, then I believe that it will be much easier on them to travel to a whole different country, to a home that they have never seen, and to a place where the people speak a different language. If I am able to stay, then once we pass court, I will have the boys with me. We will also plan on interacting with Garth through Skype hopefully every day, so they will also get to know him through those conversations. It is also important for the boys to learn that Garth and I will be their primary caregivers and learn that we will provide for their every need.

I also wanted to share another piece of Ethiopian culture with you. Our boys are from the Sidama area and this house is a typical house for that area.



Friday, December 3, 2010

We are having an iPad giveaway!

I have been thinking and praying about doing this for a while now, and we felt like now was the right time to have this giveaway. We will have the drawing on December 19, 2010 at 9:00 p.m. This is a 16 GB Wi-Fi iPad. It is still in the plastic wrap from when we bought it at Best Buy. It includes the iPad, Dock Connector to USB Cable, and 10W USB Power Adaptor.

So how do you enter? Click the "Donate" button on the left or send us cash, check, or money order. Enter "iPad" for the purpose. For each $10 donation you will get 1 entry. If you donate $50, we will give you 6 entries, and if you donate $100, we will give you 15 entries. We will know how many entries you earn based on your donation. I will mail the iPad out on December 20 so you should have it by Christmas. We will contact the winner by phone if we have your phone number and we will definitely post the winner here on our blog and on Facebook.  So let's see our fundraiser thermometer skyrocket in the next couple weeks. Please pass on the information to all of your family and friends on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, fax, snail mail, telegraph, smoke signals, or any other way you pass information!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My heart and mind are in Ethiopia

Today I am struggling. I haven't even met "J" and "S" yet, but I miss them terribly. I don't know how to explain how that's possible, but believe me, it is excruciating. I desperately want to see my boys...hug them...kiss them...play with them...tell them stories...eat with them...rock them when they are tired...read to them...watch them sleep...and everything else that goes with being a parent. I find myself wondering what they are doing right now? Are they sleeping? Eating? Playing? I found out today that our little "J" has a friend and they like to talk to each other in their native language as they are from the same area in Ethiopia. I can't tell you how much that warmed this mommy's heart. While all of us hope that our children have friends in the transition home that they play with, actually knowing that they do is wonderful to hear. The family who is adopting "J"'s little friend is from Idaho so when we both get our kids, we may have to take a trip out that way sometime.

For now, I will keep waiting for that phone call that will tell us when our court date is. Next week Paige Alleca will be seeing our boys and loving on them, taking pictures, and playing with them so I'll have to hold out for that. I LOVE YOU MY SWEET BOYS!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #14-The Alleca Family!

This week our featured family is Tony and Paige Alleca. If their name sounds familiar to you, it's because they are the ones taking the care packages to our boys next week! Tony and Paige have 3 beautiful biological children Francesca, 13, Marianna, 10, and Matteo, 7, but they always felt as though they weren't done yet. Paige is the youngest of 8 children so a large family is normal for them. God put adoption on Paige's heart shortly after Matteo was born. In fact, Paige had the AWAA application for 5 years before they both knew it was the right time. After attending an AWAA seminar in May 2009, they knew the time was right, and they felt the Lord leading them to Ethiopia. They knew from the start they wanted to adopt two children and keeping a sibling group together was very important to them. They made a few adjustments to their age range during the process but in the end they let God choose their children. Tamirat and Million were hand picked by God to fit perfectly in their family. After a year and a half, they will finally be a family of 7! Their embassy appointment is on December 8 and following that, they will be able to bring Tamirat and Million home forever! Check out their blog here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coming soon....

I am very excited to tell you that this coming Friday, December 3, we will be having another fundraiser...but I'm not telling you what it is yet. Any guesses?

Just Love Coffee winner

Thank you to those who bought coffee from us during our Black Friday weekend contest! Garth and I are excited to share that the winner of the four free bags of coffee is...

HEATHER CHENEY!

Congratulations, Heather!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Just Love Coffee Black Friday contest

Hey friends and family! I wanted to let you know about a contest that Just Love Coffee is having this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday! The family who sells the most coffee in those three days will get 20 FREE bags of coffee of their choice. To sweeten the pot, Garth and I are going to have our own give-away. For every bag of coffee you buy, we will put your name in the hat for FOUR free bags of coffee of your choice. If you buy five bags of coffee, we will give you 6 entries. So check out the selection today!

Thanksgiving thoughts

All this week most of us have been bustling around grocery shopping, cleaning, making plans to travel to visit family, and thinking about the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, etc. that most of us will soon be eating.

I admit that I LOVE Thanksgiving. I love thinking about all the things that I am thankful for, I love getting together with family and friends, and of course I love the food. But this year there is a bit of sadness invading my feelings as well. You see, in addition to not being able to share our Thanksgiving with Jeremiah and S***, Thursday is also S***'s birthday. Every part of my mommy's heart wants to fly over there so I can be with him on his birthday. I want to shower him with hugs and kisses, play with him, give him a birthday cake, and sing to him (of course I would do that with Jeremiah as well).  As I sit here typing this, tears are streaming down my face with love and loneliness for our boys.

I am also having a hard time thinking about the fact that while we will be stuffing ourselves, there are children who will only get a bowl of rice...


or a slice of bread...

So tomorrow as you are being thankful for the blessings that the Lord has given you, say a prayer for those people who won't be partaking in the feast that many of us will be; those who are thankful for whatever food they get.



HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #13-The McKinney family!


This week's featured family is Tony and Michelle McKinney from the MD/DC/VA area. They are a blended family with two boys, MJ and C, from Tony and Michelle, and an adult son, Anthony, who became part of Michelle's family when she married Tony. When Michelle's mom died when she was about 6 years old, she was adopted by her aunt and uncle, so obviously adoption is important to her. When they got married in 1998, they talked about the possibility of adopting regularly. Even after their boys were born, they still wanted to adopt, although it was centered around domestic adoption. On September 1, 2009, however, God began to change all that. Michelle was watching a Gotcha Day video from another adoptive mom and her heart began softening for international adoption. Previous to this moment, adopting from another country had never entered her mind. For one thing, she doesn't like taking long trips anywhere. But on that day, she felt the Lord telling her to consider international adoption. When she talked to Tony about it, he thought it was a GREAT idea! Michelle also shared with Tony this draw to Ethiopia that she felt was from the Lord and showed him the stats about Ethiopia, some adoption stories, etc. and he agreed that they would pursue a baby girl from Ethiopia, who they will name Selah. So, on October 30, 2009, they joined the AWAA Ethiopia program.

On September 26, 2010, their paper pregnancy was complete, but they are waiting for the rest of the money needed to send in their dossier. They have two fundraisers which include Michelle's Etsy store where you can get handmade glass tile pendants and they also have t-shirts. According to their blog, they need approximately $2700 more before they can send in their dossier, so if you if you are led to help them, please do! Wouldn't it be a great present for them to have all the money needed by Christmas?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Immunizations

Who reading this likes to get shots? Anyone? No, I didn't think so. Well tomorrow, Garth and I get to begin to get our immunizations. We will be leaving at about 7:00 a.m. to go to the Omaha Travel Clinic to get our yellow fever, typhoid, meningococcal, and polio shots, and they will also give us malaria pills and an antibiotic to take while we are in Ethiopia. Thankfully our shots will be in our arms, though!

Then on Thursday, we will be going to Tekamah to get the rest of our immunizations from the Goldenrod Hills Community Action who give a few immunizations at a GREATLY reduced price. In Tekemah, I will only have to get a Hepatitis A shot, but Garth will also have to get Hepatitis B, MMR, and TDaP. 

While we are not very excited to get all these shots, it does mean that we are that much closer to seeing our boys so bring on the needles!

Care Packages!

Now that we know who our sons are, we can send care packages to them with other families who are going over for their court or Embassy hearings. Today I mailed our first care package to Paige Alleca and her husband Anthony who are waiting for their Embassy appointment. You can see the pictures below, but for S*** we got a a train that makes noise, a Nerf basketball, a pull along duck, and a chunky dump truck. For Jeremiah, we got 6 matchbox cars, a Nerf football, and a photo album with several pictures of  their new family. When Paige and Anthony take our care packages, they will also take new pictures of the boys that they will then e-mail to us...quickly I hope! :-) So let's all pray that they will get a quick Embassy appointment so they can bring their new son and daughter home, and we can get new pictures!

S**** and Jeremiah's first care package

Jeremiah's 1st care package

S***'s first care package

Pending Adoption Legislation

On AWAA's blog today, they told us about some pending legislation in the House of Representatives that deals directly with international adoption and encouraged us to contact our House members and tell them to SUPPORT the International Adoption Simplification Act and Help Haiti Act of 2010. To get the contact information of your House member, click here.

International Adoption Simplification Act: Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to include in the definition of "child" a child adopted under the age of 18 (16 under current law).  This bill includes an exemption from required admissions vaccination documentation, certain children who have been adopted in a foreign country that is a signatory to the Hague or who are emigrating from such a country for U.S. adoption.

Help Haiti Act of 2010: Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) to adjust to permanent resident status an alien who: (1) was granted parole admission into the United States pursuant to the humanitarian parole policy for certain Haitian orphans announced on January 18, 2010, and suspended as to new applications on April 15, 2010; (2) is physically present in the United States; (3) is admissible as an immigrant; and (4) files an application for adjustment not later than three years after enactment of this Act.

Thank you for contacting your House member!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #12-The Anderson Family!

This week's featured family is especially fun for me to write about because I have met them! Garth and I got to have lunch at Olive Garden one afternoon with the Anderson's and another family who is adopting from Ethiopia, the Paddack's. It is so much fun meeting people who are on this journey with us especially when they live so close!

John and Christina Anderson live in Omaha, Nebraska and they have three children, Ethan, Cerra, and Brantley. They began the paperwork process in March of this year and were DTE on August 27. They are requesting a baby girl up to 12 months and will name her Nora Carolyne (African name) Anderson. To read more of their story, check out their blog. They have a "Just Love Nora" coffee fundraiser so if you would like to help them bring Nora home, order some coffee or anything else from their site here. You can also pray that they receive their referral quickly for their new baby daughter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

One week down!


It has been one week and one day since we first got to see the pictures of our sons, and it went by pretty quickly! Garth and I have been praying for our children since we began this journey and it was wonderful to finally be able to pray for them by name! It was also very exciting to be able to share our news with everyone, and we even were mentioned on a local Omaha radio station! That was a fun surprise! Garth and I, well mostly me, have started thinking about the things that we will need to get to prepare for our sons and I'm excited to say that I was able to find some of them already this week! For their beds, I had originally thought of getting toddler beds, but while talking to my mom, she suggested bunk beds since kids grow out of toddler beds so quickly. She is so wise. I wanted to find some wood beds because the room that they will be sleeping in has wood panels for walls, so I was very excited when I found a lady in Blair who was selling her wood bunk beds for a very reasonable price on Craig's List. We will be getting those beds today! I also knew that I would need one more car seat as well as booster seats that I also found on Craig's list. I can't remember if I mentioned this in my posts before, but I am REALLY HOPING to be able to stay in Ethiopia from the time of our court date until our Embassy appointment so I can bond with our boys before we can even bring them home. To do that, we will need to have everything ready before we go so Garth doesn't have to try to go shopping for things without me.

We have also decided on their names. I have always wanted to incorporate the grandparent's names into our children's names. The older child has a beautiful, but unusual, name, so we will be changing it to Jeremiah J**** -Ned Druckenmiller. The younger child has a fairly common American name, so we will leave it the same and his name will be S**** Theodore Druckenmiller. I have always loved the name Jeremiah and my favorite Bible verse is out of Jeremiah. In fact, it's at the top of this blog page! Jeremiah means "Sent by God" and Ned means "Wealth Protector". S*** means "Listening" and Theodore means "Gift of God". I don't know the meaning of J**** yet, but I'm hoping to find out the end of this month. I am so glad God "listened" to our prayers and He is "sending" these "gifts" to us!

I would also like to begin sharing some photos that pertain to Ethiopia when I send out these update blogs. This first picture is the Ethiopian flag. The red stripe stands for power, yellow for the church, peace, natural wealth, and love, and green for the land and hope. The star is for the unity of the people, the disk is for peace, the prosperity for all ethnicities, races, religions, and gender. The blue background stands for peace and democracy.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It was an ordinary day...



Friday, November 5, 2010 started out to be a regular day. Garth got up and went to work at about 6:00 a.m. and I got up around 8:30 to do some things around the house before I started working. During my afternoon break, I decided to check my e-mail. Fridays are usually quite busy for the Ethiopia Yahoo Group because families get e-mails about being DTE as well as referral calls/e-mails. Among the YG e-mails was one from a family who had received a referral the previous Friday for two boys ages 2 and 4. When I saw their DTE date, I noticed that it was the same as ours, 9/3/10. While I was very happy for them, the human side of me was very frustrated that we didn't get that referral. I had a little pity party and even told God that it wasn't fair (just like my 3-year-old nephew). I knew in my heart that we would get a referral at the exact right time, but I desperately wanted it to be now! Well about 20 minutes after I had that little pity party, my cell phone rang...the caller ID said "AWAA". My heart skipped a beat and I mentally told myself not to get too excited (even though my heart was beating about twice as fast as normal). When I answered, Caitlin identified herself and told me that this wasn't an official referral call...and my heart dropped. You see, when Garth and I had sent in our official request, we had said that we would prefer a boy and a girl, but were open to both children being the same gender. Caitlin then said that they had two brothers who were available to be adopted and since we were open to having them be the same gender, wanted to give us the chance to get that referral. Inside I was screaming "YES! SEND US THE REFERRAL" but I calmly told Caitlin that I would have to talk to Garth and let her know. I hung up the phone and immediately started crying. It occurred to me that God was probably up in heaven laughing hysterically that just a few minutes before I was having a pity party over not getting a referral. :-) I hadn't even seen the pictures of the boys or anything, but my inner being was saying that I was finally going to be a mom...the one thing I had been dreaming about for as long as I can remember. I called Garth and was able to compose myself enough when the receptionist answered, but as soon as I heard Garth's voice say "Garth speaking" I started to cry again. Of course Garth was wondering what was going on and I eventually was able to tell him...we MIGHT have a referral. I told him about Caitlin's call and he said..."let's talk about it tonight." Once again, my heart dropped. That meant that we wouldn't be able to get the information until Monday and I would have the entire weekend to wonder what they look like, their information, etc. Thankfully, about 30 minutes later, I got an e-mail from Garth that said to let Caitlin know that we would like the referral. HALLELUJAH!!! My hands were shaking so bad while I was dialing AWAA's phone number that I was sure I would enter the wrong number, but thankfully I didn't. When Caitlin answered the phone, I told her we would LOVE to get the referral e-mail, to which she replied, "Then this is your official referral call!" The boys are so adorable. I wish I could share their pictures with you and tell you their names, but we can't until we pass court.

You may be asking yourself "how can they be getting a referral for siblings when they were just number 13 on the list?" My answer is...God works in mysterious ways. It's possible that the families ahead of us wanted a girl or their age range was younger than ours. Whatever the reason, the Lord picked US to be parents to these two boys....and we are THRILLED!

So what happens next? Well, last night Garth and I made the next payment of $9385. You might notice that we don't quite have that full amount yet on our thermometer, but God has always provided in the past and I know he will this time as well.

Tomorrow I am going to Fed Ex the referral acceptance forms to America World who will then begin doing what they do so we can get a court date. The recent court dates have been in January, so it's possible we will be able to go that month or in February to meet our boys! I CAN HARDLY WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Adoption Family of the Week #11-The Herwehe Family!


Laura and Charlie Herwehe live in Indianapolis, Indiana and they have been married for 10 years. They have three daughters, Emma, 7, Ellie, 4, and Erin, 2, and they are adopting a baby boy who they will name Elias! They began their adoption journey in October 2009. They completed their dossier and were DTE on March 26, 2010 and received their referral for 1-year-old Elias on October 8. They just found out on November 3 that they have a court date of January 18! They are obviously very excited to be able to meet their new son.

So what made them decide to adopt? Well while Laura was growing up, she lived in Kenya as the child of missionaries. That experience changed her in so many ways; one of which was create a true heart for orphans in Africa, and specifically east Africa. When she met Charlie, she told him about her desires to adopt children from Africa and he said that he, too, had always felt the calling to adopt a child. So, adoption has always been in their plan. After they had their three girls, they felt very strongly that God was calling them to a son in Ethiopia. They are completely in love with Elias and cannot wait to bring him home early next year! Check out their blog here and follow their journey to Elias!

Today I Kissed an Angel

Today I kissed an angel. I knew it from the start. The first time my angel smiled at me; I gave away my heart.

Today I kissed an angel; This angel child of mine. Though not of my creation, My child by God's design.

Today I kissed an angel. My heart is dancing wild; Our family, by a miracle; Blessed by our angel child.

All I Really Want by Steven Curtis Chapman