Sunday, February 20, 2011


I '"lifted" this off of another blog and watching it brought back so many memories!  We weren't doing "gotcha day" videos back when my oldest were born so to see this and remember is a huge blessing to me today.  Note the statistics...extremely heartwrenching.  But imagine if more birthmothers saw how we honor them...saw how their babies are LOVED.  Maybe, just maybe, more would choose LIFE.

Grab a hankie and ENJOY!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

3 Months Home

This week marks 3 months since Mari first set foot on American soil.  In some ways it has flown by, but honestly it feels like she has always been here.  She is doing so well, integrated her sweet self into our family so inexplicably that we feel the void left when she is away.  Her English progresses daily and I am sure she understands 90 percent of what we say...unless she is in a "mood"... which point she suddenly only speaks Amharic.

But these days are just leading one into another quite effortlessly and, once again, I wonder at the miracle of adoption and how God knits families together so perfectly.

Her manipulative behaviors lessen weekly.  She skips around the house singing songs and playing with her siblings, happily pretending her "baby" is hungry or riding her little 4-wheeler around the yard until the battery begs to be recharged.  She rarely speaks Amharic any more.  The only phrase that she consistently uses still is "Eh-weh-de-shal-lo" which means "I love you."

I pray that phrase never leaves her vocabulary.

She has begun to talk about Ethiopia, about her memories.  I wish I could see what she has seen.  There is so much we will never know, but some things we DO know.
1)  She has seen babies born.
2)  She has seen Elephants and they are "nice"
3)  She likes Ethiopia...because in Ethiopia they dance.  Then she showed me her cute version of the Ethiopian shoulder dance!

I promised her that one day our whole family will go to Ethiopia to "visit friends" and that thrilled her.  She loves to watch environmental documentaries such as "Planet Earth" because they remind her of Ethiopia.  I must say I miss Ethiopia does Katie.  We talk about it often: the sights, the sounds, the we long to go back again.  We definitely left a part of ourselves in that country.

Mari's English still makes us chuckle at times, like when she says "Be quiet boy!" which I finally figured out means "Use a quiet voice!"  She loved celebrating "Ballentimes Day" and still can't figure out why her "Happy birthday is all gone."  Abstract concepts like "next year" just haven't become clear yet.  Thankfully she still has the cutest African accent.  She no longer requests injera, but instead asks for pizza or waffles.  She adores all of her siblings, but has a special relationship with DJ who is so very tender with her.  She and Drew have gotten over the hump of sibling rivalry that was created by their close ages and now they often go off together holding hands.  My heart sings when I hear him say "Good job!" and especially when one of them goes to the other so they can give a kiss on the cheek.

Insert happy sigh here.

Not that our days don't have their challenges.  They do.  But the challenges seem normal.  Just part of having 5 kids and all the diplomacy that must be exercised in a large family.  There is always something to learn, grace to be shown, mercy to be received.  God is not finished with us yet.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's the Little Things

One of the many joys of adopting an older child is seeing them "get it" as they realize on a new level the permanency of family.  We had several framed pictures of her around the house, but none on the walls.  We have had new family portraits made, but they have not been printed and framed just yet.  I had a wall with four 8x10 photo collages of our oldest four kids so I ordered a collage of Mari that would match theirs.  It arrived in the mail and I framed it today.  I began the task of rearranging the pictures to accommodate #5 and she came into the room to watch.  I showed her the picture and she gasped in delight..."That's Mari!" she exclaimed.  Then I showed her how I was putting a nail in the wall and, as I hammered, she asked "Are you OK, Mom?"
"Yes,"  I said.  "It doesn't hurt me.  I am just putting the nail in so I can hang your picture."
Then I did it.  I put her picture on the wall...
for the first time.
The smile on her face was magical.
She was so excited she was about to jump out of her skin.


You see, that hole in the wall is permanent.  That wall will never be the same.  There is a new picture, her picture, nestled among her new siblings on the wall.
Another layer has peeled away.
Another level of trust was revealed.
She belongs.


That word becomes richer every day.