Friday, March 30, 2012

This = taking forever....

It has been 14 weeks since we were in court in Ethiopia...I can hardly believe it. Fourteen weeks since we have seen our daughter, and back then we thought we'd be back to get her in 6-8 weeks.
We have two more weeks to wait until Kiya, the one who found her, is interviewed by the Embassy. I can hardly believe that we have to wait that long to hear any news.
We are getting close to the date we began this adoption process, April 8, 2009. If you would have told me back then three years later we would still be waiting for our child and had a son as well I would never have believed you. It's crazy that when we began the wait time for a referral was only 1-3 months for a boy and 6-8 months for a girl. Times certainly change!

We were submitted to the Embassy almost five weeks ago. I know this is the last waiting time in this entire process & to be so close to getting her is encouraging, but this is by far the hardest couple of months I feel like I've gone through, minus being pregnant and scared out of my mind for 9 months with blake.
The thing with pregnancy though is that there is a end in sight. You know that you won't go longer than 9 months & you know what to expect. With adoption it goes on and on, and is in many ways much more challenging.
Can I just brag for a moment about my wonderful mother? She has become such an advocate of adoption that she began an adoption ministry at my church I grew up in and love to pieces, Lakeside Community Chapel.  This Sunday they are having a fundraiser at the church to bring in funding for other families adopting. She has such a heart for adoption and it's spreading among families and it is truly an encouragement to my heart.
I would really appreciate your prayers these next few weeks. I want to not be consumed by this sadness and longing to bring our daughter home & not worry about all the details coming together. Each day is a gift & it's all orchestrated in God's timing, but it's just so hard to picture my daughter without me day after day - I really miss my girl. She belongs with us at home. Also please keep other families we traveled with in your prayers, some are returning home, others leave this week & then there are others who are waiting like us. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO IS INVESTED IN THIS - YOUR SUPPORT IS HUGE.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Stolen Blog Post

Our dear friends Dawson & Alicia posted this on their blog today and I thought it had some really great insight worth passing on...
Dear Friends and Family,
We finally got our email from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa saying that we can go and pick up our son! We will be on an airplane Wednesday, April 4th heading to Ethiopia. The first thing we would like to do is to thank all of you for your love and support during this long, difficult, and hopefully character building =) adoption process. Because we know you care for Josef and our family, we want to share with you some information that we hope will best equip everyone to assist us in giving him a solid foundation when he gets home.
When a child is born into a biological family there is an instant bond. The baby knows from their first days that they can rely on their parents to meet their needs. If they are hungry…they cry and their parents feed them. If they need a new diaper…they cry and their parents change them. This cycle of expressing a need and having it met builds trust in the parent/child relationship from a very early age. Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in this typical attachment process. The loss of a biological mother at an early age can be a major trauma on their little hearts. The good news is that we can now, as Josef’s family, rebuild attachment and help him heal from these emotional wounds. When Josef comes home, he will be overwhelmed. Everything around him will be new and he will need to learn not just about his new environment, but also about love and family. He has not experienced God’s design for a family in an orphanage setting. The best way for us to form a parent/child bond is to be the only ones to hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe and feed him. As this repeats between us, he will be able to learn that parents are safe to trust and to love deeply. We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once Josef starts to establish this important bond, he will then be able to branch out to other, healthy relationships.
Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone – which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents. Waving, blowing kisses or high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed, but it will help us immensely if adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with Josef. This will (for a while) include things like holding, hugging, and kissing. We also want to redirect Josef’s desire from having his physical and emotional needs met by just anyone to having us meet them. Orphans often have so many caretakers that they, as a survival mechanism, become overly charming toward all adults. A child struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit. Please understand that we want nothing more than to have Josef hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you (he’s totally irresistible and huggable) when the time is right.
Our plan: If you are in Billings, you are MORE than welcome to greet us at the airport. Our flight is scheduled to arrive at 11:40pm (unless we miraculously make the earlier flight on standby and arrive at 7:30 – you can call my parents if you want to check, Ron and Terry @ 252-0481) on Thursday, April 12th. On Friday, we will make a short visit to see some of our family, and then we’ll be heading back to Lustre. Once we are home we are going to enter a cocoon phase for the first month. We will basically stay at home, and Dawson and I will alternate taking Diek and Hadden to church and other activities. We will limit visitors during this time. We know that you are all looking forward to getting to know Josef, and we want him to know you, but it is so very important that he feels safe and comfortable in his new environment with his new family. We will constantly be evaluating things as we go, so please be patient with us as we figure this out. After the cocoon phase our family’s routine will get back to some kind of normal. At this point we would love to introduce Josef to our church family and friends. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions anytime.

We would appreciate your continued prayers during this time of transition for our family. Thank You.

Dawson, Alicia, Diek, Hadden, and Josef Olfert

An Encouraging Email

The Baxter's were sweet enough to send an email to us yesterday re: Iris. It was so nice to know that they prayed over her, kissed her sweet cheeks for us & could see her resting soundly. When Joe and I are thousands of miles away it is reassuring to have some small piece of connection with our daughter.
We are praying and hoping these next two plus weeks fly by...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Not what I wanted to hear

We found out this morning that the Embassy is booked until April 16th so they won't be interviewing Kiya (who found Iris) till that morning at 7:30am. We are eager and hoping that once they interview him we will have clearance to travel immediately. It was disappointing to find out since we thought the interview could be next week, but atleast there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Check out our friend Alicia's blog today for further updates: as she does a great job of telling what's going on with us and other couples we traveled with. They got the great news today they are clear to travel. So happy for them, but this means our small hope to be reunited over there is gone, which is disappointing.
Can't wait till this time is a distant memory and we are talking about how crazy it is to have all these kids home!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Some good news...

I got an email this morning saying they are working on getting an ID # for Kiya who found our daughter. The Embassy requires him to have this for the interview & they plan on getting it this week. CWA in Ethiopia have requested an April 3rd interview date at the US Embassy which is only a week away!!!!
We have to wait and make sure the Embassy approves this, but once we know that interview is going to happen it is hopeful that we'd hear back that same day regarding being cleared to travel.
Things seem to go fast once you are cleared to go, we'd be flying to Florida very quickly to bring Blake to my parent's house for the time we are gone. Of course the Embassy could sit on it for a while, might decide to investigate further, but we are hopeful that they will be satisfied from what they learn and be done with it already.
Hoping this week goes by quickly & some other families start getting cleared to go. Prayers are with the families who are there this week! (Selfishly I want others to hear next week if we hear so we can go together!)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

New Pics!

Some girls were blowing bubbles & he was drinking it up

Classic Blake look

Yes I bought the ugly pinwheels from the Dollar tree. He is a sucker for them & I wanted to make him happy. Blake likes them too. :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Friday

This is all I have to say re:adoption. In other news, Blake is on the nebulizer till his cough clears & I can't wait to have breakfast with the lovely Sara Jones tomorrow. Thankful for a cool rainy day to stay in and relax.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Answers please...

Hearing the Baxter's good news that they are travelling next week for their Embassy appointment was a real excitement today. It gives me hope for our case and it makes me joyful to know their prayers were answered and they will soon be reunited with their daughter.

It caused me to email our case worker and see what is going on with finding this girl Kiya who needs to meet with the Embassy. Have they found her? Is there an appointment set? How long do we just play this waiting game in hopes of this girl coming forward and helping us?

Tomorrow our case worker will speak with CWA in Ethiopia and get some answers - she recommended if there is no appintment yet to contact the Embassy next week directly and seek some direction with our case. She said sending things to Nairobi in a way is better because they seem to be dealing with the cases quickly instead of letting it just sit at the Embassy. I just hate the thought of waiting and then having it all sent off anyway for an investigation.
Talking to my brother last night I was reminded to not place my hope in this adoption - not let my whole life be centered on the news of what is next - so true.

I'm taking Blake to the doctor this afternoon, his poor little body is just not doing well & I'm hoping it's nothing serious. It was 3 LONG years we waited for a child and God gave us Blake. So here we are 3 years later and hoping Iris comes to us quickly.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Whatever is true, whatever is lovely...

I get a big fat "F" in following this verse (whatever is true, lovely, good, holy...think on these things) - instead of dwelling on truth (God is in control of ALL things and will bring my daughter home at His perfect time) I think on all the worst possible outcomes.
Finding this lady Kiya will take forever - is she even alive? Getting her to the Embassy is practically impossible! What if they finally speak to her after weeks and then decide to send all our stuff to Nairobi for investigation? What if all our paperwork ends up expiring during this wait and we have to redo stuff for a third time?  Is the orphanage doing all they can to help our case?
What if our house sells? Oh yeah, it's for sale and we are hoping to get to Florida this year. What if we have to be out before we even get to Ethiopia? 
A million things run through my mind, but I have to preach to myself and remind my brain over and over - either God is in control or He's not. Of course I believe He is, so instead of just saying it I have to start acting like it! 
I want to be able to tell my daughter one day that waiting for her was so difficult, but I trusted Him to provide for her and had His peace in the midst of it. After all,  who loves her more - me or Jesus? Of course her heavenly Father can care for her better than I ever could - are His ways not soooo much higher than mine? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sick (Blake) & Tired (me)

Blake is sick yet again. I blame myself! I've been lagging with my antibacterial stuff after he's been exposed to lots of germs and I feel so bad to see him miserable. Thankfully I still have some meds from the last cough to help fight this bug off quickly.
We are still awaiting any news from Ethiopia, I feel it's going to be a while before we hear of a meeting between Kiya (who is involved with our case) and the Embassy. My hope is that she's done this before and the 5 hour bus ride to Addis is something she will be able to fit in her routine quickly...after they find her of course! Silence is not golden in this case - the lack of news is really difficult to deal with daily. Still we press on, even when life feels on hold ...
Valley of Vision -" I long to fill all my time for thee, whether at home or in the way; to place all my concerns in thy hands; to be entirely at thy disposal, having no will or interest of my own. I rejoice to think that all things are at thy disposal, and it delights me to leave them there"

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A special reunion

We had the unique opportunity to get together with Joe & Melissa Griffin who we met while in Ethiopia. They live in North Carolina but were visiting familiy in Indiana & so we met in the middle at California Pizza Kitchen @ Oakbrook Terrace. What a wonderful reminder of our trip, an encouragement to be with them, and a gift from the Lord to reconnect while we wait to get our girls (they are adopting a beautiful little baby girl as well).
I wanted to tell people we passed along the way "do you realize how we know each other? We met across the other side of the world while we were meeting our children in Ethiopia"...I was thinking what a bond I feel to the other families who we met while on our trip. You go through this life changing experience that is so unique & to meet other families who know exactly what it feels like - there are really no words to describe it. I'm so thankful for the friendships I have through our trip to Ethiopia...
What a blessing it would be for us to be there at the same time again for the second trip.
Melissa, Joe & Joe, Blake & I ...not my best holding position for Blake :)
Let's hope for some good news this week...or next week...or the next week...Lord please let her be home before Mother's day.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The latest from Ethiopia

This is what I found in my inbox this morning. We assume that the lady they need to bring in is the one who found our daughter and brought her to the police. This was discouraging b/c it adds a lot of time, but we know atleast things are being done and each day brings us closer to getting Iris home. Please pray the appointment would happen quickly, they will find Kiya, and she'd be able to tell the Embassy what they need. We are eagerly waiting to get our daughter and news like this feels so defeating. Thank goodness that God is in control or I would have a nervous breakdown :)

Dear CWA,
In order to complete the I-604 Determination of a Child as an Orphan under U.S. immigration law, the U.S. Embassy requests your assistance in facilitating a meeting between Kiya and Embassy personnel for the case listed below.  Your assistance in arranging this meeting at the Embassy on any available Monday or Wednesday morning at 7:30 am, Monday or Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 pm, or Tuesday and Thursday morning at 7:30 am will allow for the Embassy to determine the child’s orphan status without the need for a prolonged field investigation. Make sure to be at the embassy on time. If you arrive after 8:30am for the morning interviews or after 4:00pm for the afternoon interviews we will be unable to accommodate you. We will schedule you for the next available slot which could be several weeks away.  
The agency is required to submit two passport size photos of all Birth Parents when they come for Birth Parent Interviews.
Please keep in mind that these interviews need to be scheduled in advance and you should respond to this email with your agency’s preferred interview date.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Movement in Ethiopia

Well I got an email from CWA this morning showing that our case is atleast being worked on...they are requesting the phone number for the police officer, which we expected to happen. I noticed that I was cc'd in the email that came from Ethiopia and they are missing an extra c in my hotmail address, so I notified her of that and hoping that gets fixed so when we hear back I can actually get the emails. (We will be notified directly from the Embassy so it's kind of important :) I'm pretty sure they must have emailed us a week ago letting us know they are working on the case and I never got it.
Please pray now that they would get a hold of the police officer and would be satisfied with what he says and by the grace of God get an appointment. If we end up getting our case sent of to Nairobi for further investigation please pray that we would be patient and trust in God's timing.

In the meantime it is serious training time over here at the Cotton house. It seems Blake has turned the terrible 2's even though he's only 17 months old - it came early. Lord give me strength!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I'll take that, that, or that...

I love the stripes & rug

This nursery is in a walk in closet. Pretty impressive!

Love the floating pom poms, the yellow dressor & deer head!

Cute Pendant, fun rug!
For lots more inspiration for nurseries check out my baby stuff board on Pinterest :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Weekend whereabouts...

Not too much excitement this weekend. The wait for the adoption is really taking a toll. There joe , is that a good enough reason for a massage? How about a new pair of shoes? I woke up this morning early to get another quart of free paint @ Ace Hardware. Pathetic? Yes. They are doing this for the entire month of March I believe, so next weekend I'll be sending Joe to save face. It's safe to say they won't see the family connection...What can I say, I love to paint & it's free.
We went to a lovely breakfast with new friends Summer & Rick and their three sweet kids. Blake was a bit of a toddler. Gonna need some serious training these approaching months / years. I can tell it's going to be a doozy!
I did something I haven't tried in months. I ran. Not very far or very fast, but I ran. Pretty excited for that.
After a nice walk , some library time with Blake & dinner I am wanting to relax but looking at the clock realizing it's already after 9 with the time change this weekend.
Tomorrow evening we are having friends Russ & Mary over for dinner :)  That about sums it up. Can't wait till we are packing on a weekend to go get Iris.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Well it's no surprise...

Last Tuesday we were submitted to the Embassy. I was hoping for the email that everyone else got saying their case was in progress & to contact them after 5 business days. Has it happened yet? Of course not! We are the ones who had an error on the birth certificate, missing case number and error on the police report. It will be a miracle if anything goes smooth. I've been pathetically checking my email probably 20 times a day and no word. Then I think, maybe they got our email i'm looking into that. I'm obsessed! Maybe we'll just magically get an email telling us when to travel next week. December feels like so long ago!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A very special letter

A few years ago when I was experiencing sorrow due my miscarriages I was having a really hard time dealing with my grief. I wanted to move forward, but was so focused on the pain. My loving mother wrote me a letter from the perspective of my child/children who had died and gone to heaven. It's a personal letter , but each time I read it I cry and it reminds me of God's faithfulness & if it can encourage one person than it's worth sharing.

Dear Mommy,
If I could write you I would, but that isn't really possible to do from heaven. I want to thank you for giving your body for me as my life began because God put you and daddy together, and then made me! I was so warm and safe inside of you as I began to grow bigger and stronger each day. Then in a moment, I was suddenly in the MOST amazing and beautiful place, face to face with my Creator. Things which ear has not heard and eyes on earth have not seen all that God has prepared for those that love Him! I know you wanted to hold and cuddle me, and I know that you are sad because we were separated so early in life (and the lives of my siblings), but mommy I am whole and well and have never suffered sickness, or sorrow, or pain, or any tears. I have been busy serving and worshiping my Creator, and though we are apart for a few years on earth time, we will be together for ALL of eternity. So please mommy, don't sorrow as those who have no hope. Did you know that the psalmist said 116:15 "precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones?" My welcome home was amazing and precious to my Heavenly Father. So please mommy, don't sorrow as those who have no hope. Rejoice with me that I am safe and you never have to worry that I would have rejected Jesus, or that I would have suffered terribly on earth due to the result of sin or sickness.
I can't wait to be with you and daddy. But in the mean time, anything you might have to endure on earth is so worth it, if you could only know how wonderful heaven is! I'm sorry you have suffered because of missing me, but I know this amazing Gd I am serving can comfort you and bring you through anything.

Did I tell you that I love having cousins here too? We are all eager for our big family reunion one day. I heard I am to have more cousins, so please pray for their safety like you prayed for mine. God did answer your prayers, even though I know it wasn't how you were thinking. Believe me mommy, the one who died for you and suffered for you knows you perfectly and loves you perfectly. This amazing Savior can be trusted and not me or anyone can be more important in your life then Him. Can't wait to see you face to face! I hear time flies by on earth, so I guess it won't be that long. Here in heaven there really is no sense of time, it is just always perfect and glorious! So don't give up trying to be like Jesus on earth, it will be worth everything when you get here!
Your Beloved Children

This was and is a perfect example of my mom knowing exactly what I needed to hear to try to heal this incredible loss of four children. Love you mom.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday, Monday...

Monday has turned into a day for laundry, cleaning dishes, vacuuming (who am I kidding, I do that every day), dusting, and straightening up. Nomatter how quiet a weekend or busy, it just seems to be a catch up day around the house.

I'm trying not to obsessively check my email incase we get word from the Embassy, hopefully tomorrow we'll hear that our case is in process...seems that is what happened with other families a week after being submitted.

We finally got Iris a mattress for her crib so I was able to make up her bedding after having it in my closet for the last month. It is so girly & sweet I love it...will have to post a picture soon. It is still a work in progress :)
Hope this week brings good news for some of the families we met in Ethiopia...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Weekend Whereabouts...

It's been a three day weekend for me with Joe taking Friday off to be together - I love that! We began Friday by going to Woodfield Mall, and if you get there an hour before anything is open the playground is actually not crawling with kids. The best part? My iced white chocolate mocha from starbucks, which I have not drinken for a good couple of months.
I saw the funniest shirt at Urban Outfitters with a picture of a pug on it & it said "Pugs, Not Drugs" , not sure if it's due to my love of the pug dog or the picture of a pug, but I laughed out loud in the store & I'm sure worried the other shoppers.
We got home just in time to avoid the snow that came all afternoon & relaxed as a family. I had to get my rest because Saturday morning bright and early I had a plan.
Ace Hardware was giving away free quarts of paint to the first 40 people who asked and I was not about to let that slip by. I entered at 8:01 & would you believe I wasn't the first person there? I had three old ladies beat me...oh well. Funniest part is when one of them was trying to correct the guy making the paint (who was also on the older side) and he told her "I'd work better if you weren't hanging over my shoulder" - ha!  She then turned to me for a chat. I think I bored her with my exciting color choice - pale grey. (Man my taste has changed through the years!)
I rushed home and then went to get my hair cut, which is always something I look forward to. Joe was supposed to be there to pick me up after the appointment, but he had gone to the store so I just figured I'd start walking. In my boots. In 33 degree weather. No hat or gloves, and I ended up with tears streaming down my face due to the cold - after what seemed like a mile Joe arrived and I calmly and politely let him know my feelings about the matter. We went back to the store, found Blake some new shoes (girl shoes are WAY cuter) and we headed back home. Missing Iris reminder, check.
I had to go back out though because we were very low on wipes and Blakes poor butt cheeks don't deserve that, so off I went to Target.
Finally got home & it was time to relax. But wait, I have all this paint, I can't relax with paint around. I painted my bathroom vanity (again...), a cute thrift store bench & just to top it off my end tables in the living room. It's a good thing I liked the color!
Now I'm feeling worn out. Wonder why...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Iris

Our sweet girl turns 1 year old today. Wish we could have you home to celebrate, but we'll just have to have a belated b-day celebration this year :)  And I thought maybe you'd be home by now...wishful thinking!
Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Iris, happy birthday to you. If you were here we'd have gotten you a small little cake with pink frosting and let you go to town. Soon enough!

Mom, Dad & Blake