The Garrisons

Follow our journey on adoption #3 for child #8!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Hoping for Orphans in 2011

Ethiopian Orphans from Simon Scionka on Vimeo.

I have a confession to make. When we first started the adoption process the first time, I felt like my eyes had been opened and I realized something that surely everyone would see. I started this blog, feeling purposeful about wanting to educate others on what I was learning. I shared blog links, videos, stories, scripture, etc. and was just sure that God was going to move in mighty ways in the people around me. I just knew that when others saw these same things, they would be moved to adopt or care for orphans, too.

Things have not exactly happened the way that my mind imagined them. It has been hard to feel like we've made a difference at all. Over time, I've felt pointless in posting things I've found about the orphan, because, well.... it just feels redundant and like maybe no one is listening.

I don't make New Year's resolutions... they generally don't last and are made in an emotional moment of wishing for change. However, I am going to refresh my sense of purpose for the orphan. I don't know if anyone is listening, or will appreciate the things that I post. But....after much soul searching on this topic, I've come to realize (again), that that part isn't my job. I can't control how others respond or how God will work in their hearts. I can, however, be a voice for the orphan. I can continue to tell their stories and help us all not to forget.

I am praying that God will do amazing things in 2011 for the orphan. I am praying that some of you who are reading this right now will be moved to adopt at least one orphan and give them a home. I am praying that God, who tells us he is the defender of the orphan, will move on their behalf....but I also know that it is through you and I that God will move. His scripture is clear about caring for the orphan. He commands us to do it. No, that doesn't mean all should adopt...for some he has other plans. However, for some of you it does. You'll have to sort that out yourself.

So, here is hoping for the orphan in 2011. May we all ask God (I mean, really ask him) what it is he has for us to do. And may we listen when we hear him.

"The helpless put their trust in You. You are the defender of orphans Lord; You know the hopes of the helpless. Surely You will listen to their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so people can no longer terrify them.”
Psalm 10:17-18

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Home, Court Date #2, and Wrestling

We're home! We arrived home on Tuesday evening after an exhausting, but uneventful trip home. While we were all a bit sad to leave Ethiopia, we were glad to be home. I missed iced tea, salads, hot baths, and my bed. :) It felt good to come home and enjoy them all!

Now, though, I am missing something much more kids. It was hard to leave them on the last day, and now that we are home it's hard to have them on a different continent. Our next court date is this Tuesday (January 4), and we would appreciate your prayers that our MOWA letter will be there so we can pass court!! The next step after that is for all of our paperwork to be submitted to the US Embassy and be assigned an embassy appointment...that is when we go get our kids!

I am currently sitting in that hard place of having just come home and seen some hard things with my own eyes. I felt the same way when we came home from Ethiopia the first time....and I know many others have experienced this after mission trips. It's hard to know exactly what to do with how I feel....I have seen children who need families - I have hugged them, spent time with them, and watched my kids interact with them. I have this overwhelming desire to make people aware - to make people want to take action and be part of the solution for impart urgency on others so they will act. I want others to realize that these kids are real. However, I know that the risk in attempting this is to sound preachy, righteous, or judgmental, and that is not my heart - it does not bring glory to God, or move others to action (that is His job anyway). In the end, it does not help these kids. So, I wrestle. I will pray that God will use our story in His own way to move others and I will keep my eyes on my own journey.

Once we pass court, I will be able to publicly share pictures of our new kids - hopefully next week! We'll be sure to keep you posted as soon as we know anything!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Update from Addis!

Greetings from Addis Ababa! Yes, we've been here a week and I've failed to update my blog...we just haven't had time and I've had a difficult time getting into my email to post! So sorry!

We've had a great time this week. I was sick the first couple of days, but that subsided by Tuesday morning and we've all been great ever since. We met the kids on Sunday afternoon and have spent time with them every day, with the exception of one when we spent the day out in the country. The kids are awesome and we can't wait until we can bring them home! It's funny, we had preconceived ideas of what they might each be like (based upon agency updates, etc.) , and for the most part it's not what we've found. That's not good or bad, just interesting. :)

Grace loves to run, jump, play ball, and do anything active. She wants us to chase her, and sometimes I think is checking just to see if we will. She is excited to see us each day, but is also the first to withdraw. Being the oldest, she must remember the most and sometimes seems guarded. (She could also sometimes be bored with us, though, since we don't speak her language and we've 'used' all of our toys and tricks since we've been here!). Overall, she seems accepting of us and was excited when we showed her pictures of our house and her room.

Aleigha is an affectionate little thing. Super sweet, and the first to seek out attention from us. She is all smiles most of the time and is more content to sit and color or cuddle. She giggles as we play, and loves for us to hug, kiss, or tickle her. She responds well to her new name already and both girls love to play with our older kids.

S*l*m*n is a cutie! Huge eyes and a contagious giggle. I love seeing how attached he is to his nannies and the other kids - he lights up when he sees them. This is all a good sign for future attachment with him when we get home. Elijah loves him, but he is unsure of Elijah. The first day Elijah basically tackled all of the new kids with hugs, and I think it freaked S****** out a little bit. He 's warming up to him, but is still cautious when it comes to getting so close. :) We think they'll be fast friends, though, and they really are darling together.

As you may have heard, we did not pass court on Thursday. We were so disappointed, but not completely surprised. MOWA (Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs of Ethiopia) must submit a letter to court saying that everything is in order for your adoption. They have had a difficult time getting the letters to court on time, as was the case with us on is not a reflection of our particular case and we will get our letter's just not ready yet. It's very frustrating, but we pray that we will get a new court date and our letter will be submitted soon. We don't want it to delay our next trip or when we can bring our children home. We'll keep you posted and appreciate the prayers!

Our other four kids are great!! The three biggest kids have been amazing with both the travel and the time spent with our kids and others at the orphanages and transitional home (where our kids are). Elijah has traveled better than we anticipated (even though the other fellow travelers have been introduced to his high pitched screaming)...please continue to pray that our flights home will go well, too!

The kids at the orphanages and especially older kids at the transitional home break your heart....such sweet kids that need homes. I was looking around at all of the kids and thinking about all of the families I knew who could take at least one into their home...we could wipe out the entire population of an cool would that be??!? I know everyone hasn't seen with their eyes what we've seen, but I wish everyone could. There would surely be more children with homes.

More updates and pictures later. We are flying out of Addis on late Monday night (late afternoon your time) and hope to be home by Tuesday night if all goes well. Thanks for following along and praying for our family!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wow - It's Here!!

Wow. Wow. Wow. It's here!! I guess we're really going to Ethiopia!!! The donations have been packed into 4 tubs and one bag, we each have a suitcase and one extra for 'miscellaneous'. It has struck me as we (well, I) have been packing how high maintenance we really are. It takes a lot of 'stuff' (aka crap) to keep this American family happy.....computers, cameras, portable DVD players, iPods, snacks, comfort items (different for each kid), medications, etc. It's a bit ridiculous. However, all 6 of us, and all of our stuff will be making our way to Chicago tomorrow to catch our flight out of here!! We fly out of O'Hare a little after 3 pm for our flight to Frankfurt. After a 4 hour layover, we board our final flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We will arrive Saturday evening ET time (they are 9 hours ahead of us).

We've had a few people ask how they can pray for us and we are more than happy to pass on our requests so that you call all be praying with us. These are more in the order of when they occur, not importance....

  • Please pray for safety and health while we travel.
  • ELIJAH - I joke that we'd like everyone to pray a 'period of silence' over him as we travel, but seriously....please pray that he will rest well on the plane and travel well. This is going to be a lot for him!
  • For the time we will spend with our 3 new kids. We are so anxious to meet them and spend a little time with them each day. We are praying that God will use this time to weave our hearts together as a family. We also know that it will be very difficult to leave them since they don't come home this trip (BOOOO!!). Please pray that God will comfort their hearts and give them understanding that we are coming back (and that the time until we can go back will be short).
  • COURT DATE - This is the reason for our trip.....Please, please pray that we will pass court the first time and that everything will be in place. (some of you may remember we did not pass the first time with Elijah). This is not a judgment on whether or not Nathan and I will be good parents (that was done in our homestudy), but a court date to be sure all of the paperwork, etc. has been done on the child's behalf.
  • Please pray for a meeting we will have with their birth father. That is sure to be an emotional meeting, and we just want it to go well and to be able to get information from him that we can later share with our children. We would love it if you would just pray for him in general.
  • For our 3 'big kids'. We are so proud of them and feel like God really wants to use this trip in their open their eyes, to soften their hearts, and see things thru His eyes. Please pray that this will be a meaningful trip for them.
  • We are also praying that God will give us opportunities to be a blessing while we are in whatever way He puts in front of us. Pray that we will see those opportunities and know how to respond.
  • Lastly, just that this would be a good time together for us as a family. Travel can sometimes be stressful, and we want to be able to enjoy our time together.
Thank you so much! I will do my best to update periodically from Ethiopia.....For those of you on Facebook, I remember that being a much easier way to post quick updates, so check there!
We appreciate all of you and thank you for your prayers in advance!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Planning, Preparing, and Updates anyone still out there??? Probably not, since it's been an entire month since I've updated (or even visited!) this blog. Much has been happening, and it's all good, just keeping me busy!

We leave for Ethiopia next Friday, December 17!! I can't believe it's coming up so quickly, but we have been slowly preparing and will be ready when the time comes. We've been collecting donations for the orphanages, and organizing all that is entailed with taking an international trip with six people! We are very much anticipating meeting Grace, Aleigha, and S*l*m*n (this is his given Ethiopian name, and I can't share it online until after we pass court....Grace and Aleigha are new American first names for the girls (that we have give them), so we can share those). Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the busyness of the trip itself, but it's fun to think about the day we'll see them face to face.

We recently received updates on our kids, so I'll share what those have to say:

GRACE T********

Weight: 45.5 pounds
Height: 108 cm
Eating/health: She eats well. She is healthy.
Development/physical: She has excellent physical development appropriate to her age. She can perform different activities by herself.
Personality/Other Comments: She is content and happy. She has very good behavior. She is harmonious with all the children, and if others hit her or push her she will tell the caretakers. She never hits the children in response to being hit. She obey orders well.
How does she behave in school?
She is focused with a good attention span. She is moderately active and calm.
How does she act when new adults come around?
She is stable and if they approach her she becomes more comfortable.
Does she ever talk about getting a new family?
She has been told that she is getting a new family, and she asked about S*l*m*n too. And along with (Aleigha) B******* she almost always looks at her families’ photograph and has learned to say Mommy and Daddy.
Does she have good relationships with her caretakers? She has good relationships with all caretakers. She gives hugs and is attached depending on how close they are to her.

ALEIGHA B*******

Weight: 39.6 pounds
Height: 99 cm
Eating/Health: She eats well with a good appetite. She is healthy.
Development/Physical: She has progress in her physical development that is appropriate to her age. She can perform different physical activities well.
Personality/Other Comments: She is usually cheerful. Sometimes, she easily break into tears (if other children take her playing materials or hit her during play) and easily gets back to laughing if someone holds her close or if she gets verbal support.
How does she behave in school?
She is a moderate learner and she is becoming more focused.
How does she act when new adults come around?
She is stable, and she can understand the gesture to approach or not.
Does she ever talk about getting a new family?
When care package was sent, she was told that everything was sent from her new Mommy and Daddy. She is very happy and she looks at the family’s pictures often and says Mommy and Daddy.
Does she have good relationships with her caretakers?
She has a very good relationship with her caretakers and those whom she trusts she get along well with and gives hugs, etc.

S*L*M*N T*****

Weight: 24.2 pounds
Height: 75.5 cm
Head Circumference: 49 cm
Eating/health: He is good at taking food. He has been healthy this month.
Development/physical: He has shown progress in his physical development. He can repeat words. He can play well with tools, dolls, etc.
Personality/Other Comments: He is a very happy boy. He is comfortable with all caretakers and any strangers too.
Does he have a special nanny he is very attached to?
He doesn’t have a special nanny. He is attached well to all of them.
What kinds of toys does he like to play with?
He likes to play with most of the car toys. He plays also with all playing materials.
Does he sleep all night without eating in the night?
He will have a bottle fed to him at 4pm at night, and he sleeps all the night without eating, but sometimes if there is a need he may eat.
How does he act around new people?
He is very affectionate, active and likes be held close (hugged). He elicits activities to get attention.
Does he understand when the nannies talk to him? (does he follow directions, try to communicate, etc)? He understands when he called, and tries to call some of the nannies’ names. He can follow directions well.

We love hearing more about our kids, but there is no substitute for getting to know them ourselves. Hold on kids....we're coming SOON!