Friday, August 30, 2013

A love note... (8/9/13)

From Rob, to Chirsty:

I love your daily posts; they are raw, emotional and completely real. You don't hold anything back, which is one of the things I love most about you; I've told you time and time again that I wish I was more like you in this way. You are doing an amazing job with our little girl, but I already knew you would because your the strongest person that I know and if anyone could do this, it's you. And Sandy is right, Imani must trust you enough to let you see this side of her...let that thought marinate for a while. This precious little angel who's been dealt one of the crappiest deals in life is starting to trust you, her mother, the person who chose her and to love her as your own. I know it's hard over there and it may not seem like it, but the rest of us can see how much she's already grown in your care. I look at the pic of Mama Koko holding Imani or her birth-mom holding her and I see the detachment from them, the unfamiliarity, the lack of trust in her eyes, the lack of expression....and then I look at the pic you put up tonight and I see life in her eyes, I see security and I see love...and that's because of you. So proud of you! Keep your head up and stay strong, we all are supporting you and cheering for you here at home. Love you, me....

Tracking DNA (8/12/13)


Today was a very active day of sitting around the house! LOL I was very busy tracking the DNA package across the world. We spoke to several people at DHL and the DNA Center. When we ordered this DNA test the lady told me that they would email or fax the results to the Embassy. Here is a quote: "The results go to the Embassy immediately!" Well, not so much. Apparently, this Embassy is one of the 10 percent from around the world that wants their results in hard copy format. That means another trip through the DHL process. UGH! So, after many many phone calls yesterday to London and the US, we learned that the package was leaving England at night and would arrive in Cincinnati on the 12th. We were super doubtful, but finally, last night the page UPDATED and showed leaving England, Then, in the middle of my night, it arrived in Cincinnati! YEAH! It is scheduled for delivery today and I am praying that the test is completed and able to be shipped back to Congo on Thursday's flight! Then, it should arrive in Congo on Sunday night/Monday morning. So, it appears that even though the package was delayed a couple of times in Kenya and England, we technically will not loose any "time". That is a good thing!!!

I am also waiting on some paperwork to be redone. Everyday we are told "tomorrow". We need this paperwork THIS WEEK. Please help us pray this into fruition! I know this can happen as stranger things have happened in Congo!

Update (8/10/13)


We had a really nice day today. We went over to an American's house here in Kinshasa. Her husband is in the military and he was at work, so she invited us over. It was a very nice house! Pool and everything. She was really kind - make us real coffee from a coffee maker, chicken salad, cookies. It was great! It was so nice to get away. It is winter here, so it was cool without being cold - my favorite kind of weather!!!!

Another mom and I *might* have been stalking the DHL website. We had received SO MANY stories of where our packages were - They were still in Nairobi, they were being ground transported to another Kenyan airport, this last scan was only a container scan so it MIGHT have left already. No one seemed to know exactly. So we started calling at no...on our time - 4:15am PST. Another mom called and got the run around again. So I called. the lady said, "Yes, it is strange that there have not been any scans since Thursday, but our research people do not come in until Monday so you'll have to wait until then." Um, not so much. I asked to speak to a supervisor and I told her exactly what was up. I told here that there were 4 DNA tests that NEEDED to get back to the United Stated for processing. I told her that the longer my package was in limbo, the longer I had to stay in Congo - which is AFRICA. I think once she realized I was sitting in Congo, she started to understand. I told her my stay in Congo depended on the Embassy getting the results of this test. So, she said she would call Nairobi because DHL flights were scheduled to have returned to normal on Friday night, so ours should have left Friday night. She called back a couple of hours later and said she got no where with Kenya, but they do fly on Saturday and Sundays, so ours should go out. Oh we waited and refreshed ALOT. FINALLY at 9:40 last night it processed and an hour later it departed Kenya. The supervisor called back and said she wasn't sure if it would arrive in Cincinnati today or Monday, but it should go out for delivery on Tuesday after clearing customs. She did change my delivery for the earliest possible delivery so that there is a chance it will start testing on Tuesday. We will call the DNA center on Monday to see if we can get it done and results sent a little quicker. So, we will see.

I am still not feeling well. Now it has moved to my sinuses - this is cold symptoms - not malaria symptoms. There is a NP here, so she is keeping an eye on symptoms = so don't worry!

Here is what I need this week:
1. Prayers for health
2. Prayers for new paperwork to be received in the beginning of the week
3. Prayers for the Bordeaux letter
4. Prayers for quick DNA processing and results sent to Embassy
5. Prayers for a quick Visa Appointment

Fire in Nairobi (8/10/13)


We have been in contact with DHL. The DNA test was flown into Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday night - why? Not so sure since there was a massive fire there. They told us last night that they were using ground transport to ferry it to another one of Kenya's airports. The package will not update until it boards the plane to the next destination. Needless to say, it has been in Kenya since 9:15pm Thursday night. We need this package to get on the plane TODAY. These types of flights usually leave at night, so there is PLENTY of time for them to get there and then get on the plane. Can you please pray with me? I need that package on a plane out of Kenya and safely flown to Brussels and then back to Cincinnati. Thank you!

Bad day (8/9/13)


Today was the first "bad" day. Imani had two meltdowns today. UGH. I was growing a bit impatient with her, honestly. I mean, am I going to change my mind because she keeps crying?

I had arranged to meet a director to receive an important piece of paper today. I ha no guarantees, but I had hoped he would give it to me if I asked. (Wishful thinking? I didn't think so....). Our appointment was at 1, then it was moved to 3. And then, when we call our contact he said that the director had told him that from now on they would only give the letters to the attorneys. He kept saying he was "on his way". By 4:30 when he still was not here, I knew he was not coming. I was really angry. Just tell me the truth. Don't feed me this line about being on the way when you are not. ...I *might* have gotten a little frustrated and told our translator, "This is ridiculous, he is lying!" So then, I got the talk about how he is not necessarily lying, something else might have come up. I just don't understand. If something came up, then tell me, don't have me waiting around thinking you are coming and you aren't.

It was just a bad way to end the week. We had pizza and some wine and now I am good. I was hoping for some good news today, but it did not happen. DNA sample is in Nairobi, Kenya and hasn't moved in almost 24 hours so I am getting a little nervous. I was really thinking that sample would be there by Monday so they could run the tests and get them to the Embassy on Wednesday or Thursday.

We will see how it all plays out. I will take some pictures tomorrow. I know we will do something, not sure what. Have a great Friday and please say a little prayer for our family!!!


Saying good bye and being sick...yuk! (8/9/13)


Today was another day of - wait for it - WAITING!!!!! LOL

My friends that were waiting on their exit letter were able to leave last night and we said goodbye to such a wonderful family! Their faith in God was awesome to see....

I am sick - not malaria sick - more like sinus infection type sick. Started a Z-pak yesterday. Imani had a meltdown when I went to the story without her to get the medicine. I have put her in an Ergo and she loves it, but she weighs like 38 pounds, so it is a lot on my back. I just couldn't do it. So, she had a meltdown. I came back and she was still crying so I took her to our room and just held her until she was done. After lunch she had the mother of all break downs. Made what I remember my boys tantrums look like a piece of cake! She wanted to go to the store in the car with another family and there wasn't room. So, I had to take her to our room where she probably screamed and cried for at least an hour. I held her, I sat next to her, I did everything I could. When I would let her down she would go over to the door and try to get out, so I locked it. Oh, that just took it to a whole NEW LEVEL. She banged on the door and screamed and screamed and screamed. Her voice was getting hoarse from all the screaming, so I picked her up, put her blanket around and rocked her until she fell asleep. She woke up her normal self!

I thought we were headed for another meltdown at dinner time because one of the other kids was asking for Fanta. I held my breathe and we both said, "No Fanta tonight" and they moved on. I don't think I could have taken another meltdown.

The kids played, then the mosquitos came out and we all went inside. The kids played some more and then it was bath, suki, Dora time. After Dora, she came over to me with he blanket and said, "Kolala", which means, "I want to sleep". I was like YEAH!!!! She was telling me she was tired! I was sick and exhausted so I went to bed with her.

Waiting for DHL and praying for another family (8/7/13)


Another day of waiting! I already posted the great thing about the DNA being picked up (by DHL), so it is on its way (back to the states for processing)!!!!

This exit letter is something that us Americans don't understand. These children are already lawfully ours under Congolese law, so not sure exactly why we have to get another letter that can only be done after the US Embassy gives a visa. The letter is useless - honestly. It is a letter that says, yep, you can take your child out of the country....

There is a couple here who have been here for 4 weeks. They haven't been waiting the ENTIRE time, but pretty close to it. They have spent over $1,200 in flight change fees. They spent a lot of time at that office today begging for their letter. They STILL DO NOT HAVE IT! Please pray for them. They need to get home to their other children who are having a VERY hard time.

Thank you!

Another change...seriously? (8/6/13)


The day started out great! I love this girl, I'm telling you what! She is SO AWESOME! When I think of what we have been through and then see her face and the her happiness, it is soooooooo worth it! I honestly never in a million years thought that some of what has transpired would happen to us on this journey, but, even so, all worth it. I will get some more pictures tomorrow so you can see her beautiful face!

So, like I said, day started out great. About 10am we receive a phone call - both parents are required to travel for the exit letter. The letter will NOT be signed any earlier than 7 days after you apply for it. The "average" is 2 to 3 WEEKS. Yes, please, let that sink in. WEEKS!!!!! I had a little freak out. Not because I hate being here, not because I don't want Rob to come but because I really had my heart set on being home for the boys' first day of school. Now I know, that is totally not going to happen. (I mean, if God wants to work a miracle here, I'm ALL ABOUT IT!) How do you work out the logistics of leaving three children and going to a foreign country for 3 WEEKS????? I mean, come on. SERIOUSLY? Who can do that easily? My little Benjamin.....he loves to snuggle and while I know his daddy has been doing a good job while I am away, nothing beats snuggling with your mommy! That means an additional 3 weeks away from them! I have never been away this long. Those 37 meals I made aren't going to last very long at this rate. Rob and I will scramble, and we will get it worked out, but goodness, I really, really, REALLY wish it wasn't like this. REALLY! But, there is always a different perspective and that is I will finally have a partner to make this travel with! We will bring her home TOGETHER! That was something we had been wishing could happen for some time. I also think this time in country with both Rob and I will be very beneficial for her. I was thinking it might also cut down on the "more daddy" phone calls.  We'll see what happens. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm upset about this. I'm upset about the entire situation, but I know it will work out. This girl is going to do something great because it sure has been one trial after another getting her home!

Thank you for your prayers and your support! We will need them!

DNA-day (8/5/13)


The DNA test happened which is the most incredible story of the day, but I thought I would give a full update.

We were ready to go to the Embassy at 8am. Our ride was late and so the van with Imani's mom ended up coming to pick us up. It was a bit awkward for me, but, even more so for Imani. She did not want to go to her mom and I had to make her. I wish I could have known what was going on in her little head. Any way, she allowed her mom to hold and spoke a little, but barely. When we arrived at the Embassy we all went in and we sat. They took ids then we sat. They returned ids then we sat. And we sat. And we sat. The nurse finally arrived, then we ALL sat. Finally, the Vice Consul came to supervise the testing. The nurse wanted to wait to... the end to collect payment, so we waited some more. When we finally were able to pay and leave the embassy I asked for a picture of the mom and Imani. Then, we all three took a picture together - she and parts of the family were telling her to smile and she was not having it. So, someone else yelled to smile and she started crying. I panicked a bit and then I took her from her mom and comforted her. I decided while we were waiting we would go to the market right up the street. Yes, I know you are wondering, I bought a Fanta. When we got back to where everyone was (I had secretly hoped they had left) was, our translator said, Yes, She would like to talk to you, but I told her now is not the time. My heart sank because I am wondering, What does she want to talk about? Is she going to ask me for money? Or a house? Or what? I did promise to come to where she lives because I want to take pictures and have things t show Imani when she wonders and questions.

We finally got back to the house about 2pm. We ate lunch and then I took a nap. We ordered from a new Lebanese restaurant and I went out on a limb and it was really good! It was called Manakish. It was a flat bread with ham and cheese and then squished like a quesadilla. Very good!!!! Then, I gave Imani a bath and I did her SUKI! Suki is hair in Lingala. She was SO HAPPY that I was doing something different with her hair. A friend her showed me how to coil it, so I gave it a whirl. You probably won't be able to see it in this picture, but, it IS done. Definitely a "Mundeli" job. (Lingala for American or white person).

Getting nervous (8/4/13)


I'm going to get straight to the point here. Tomorrow is DNA day. I am terribly nervous about Imani seeing her birthmother for the first time since the orphanage. Due to some other factors, and to make a long story really short, she is coming here today so that we can gauge the reaction here at the guesthouse instead of at the Embassy where there would be a huge audience. So, Rob is working at church, so he doesn't even know yet. A quick prayer for peace for both of them and a little prayer for my nerves would be great!

later that day...

Mom did not come because she "might" be in labor. (Please, this is not the time or place for birth control discussions). I'm at a total lose because there is nothing I can do to keep that baby put another day or two so she can make it to the Embassy. The next DNA test is August 12th. So, I will be doing a lot of praying for her mom to not be in labor. Grandma came though and I liked her. Please pray for all of us. Me, Imani and her birth mom and most of all - God's will to be done. That's all for tonight.

The weekend...ughh (8/3/13)


The weekends are the longest part of being in the Congo. NOTHING happens on the weekend, so it is usually very long. There was still a couple of things I needed to do for the DNA test on Monday, so three of us rented a car. I took Imani to get passport photos taken. She needs 1 for the DNA test on Monday, 3 for the Embassy and 1 for the exit letter process. We went to the larger, more American, City Market. $62 dollars for a pack of Pampers. SERIOUSLY!!!!! I am still struggling to understand how this country almost always in the top 5 of poorest places to live is so expensive to live in. I don't get it.

Since this is my third trip to Congo, I have seen a lot of things, but there was something that broke my heart yesterday. As we left City Market and got ...into the car, I handed the police officer 800 francs (80 cent) for helping my get into the car. (This is just the way it is folks. No one does anything without getting paid. They hold a door for you, you pay them too.) On the other side of the car, there was a street women begging for money. Se was carrying a sleeping child - he did not appear to be two yet but was older than 1. The police were trying to get her to leave us alone so there was a lot of talking. Once we were pulling away we asked our translator what was said. He said, "The police were telling her to go away. That you are only helping children - not women like her. But, if you want, they can take your baby." That was so sad - yet, a daily thing here in Kinshasa. I was just so impacted by that. I can't believe they said "Women like you". I wanted to stand up for her and say, "AT LEAST SHE IS TRYING". Different things impact different people and I am still teary over it. It is like no big deal here. There has to be something we can do. I'm glad we drove away because I seriously might have given her all of my money.

On a lighter note, Imani is doing GREAT! We had a little break through yesterday. While I was at City Market, I put some coke zero in the cart. She looked at me and said, "Mommy Fanta?" I looked at her and I just could not say no. So, I said "One. One Fanta." She was SO HAPPY! I had the translator tell her she could have half today and half tomorrow if there was no crying. She said "OK". Can you BELIEVE she drank half and we put the rest in the refrigerator?????? NO CRYING!!!! Happy the whole time! I'm thinking I will have to stop drinking soda if I expect her to stop.

There is a couple here who have been waiting almost 2 weeks for their exit letter. My heart is breaking for them. They are missionaries and their 2 biological kids are at home with parents and they are not doing well. They are desperate to get home to them. Will you please say a prayer for them? God can move this letter along, so please pray they receive it on Monday!

Just a glimpse (8/2/13)

If you'd like a glimpse into Christy's world over this past year, this does a pretty good job of summing it up.

Next day (8/1/13)


August 1:

Today was a holiday, so we sat around the compound. It sounds worse than it was. We slept until 8:30 which was good because I woke up at 4am and couldn't go back to sleep. We got up - ate breakfast, Imani ate her dinner from the night before for lunch, then one of the drivers they normally hire offered to cook dinner before some friends were leaving, so we enjoyed a traditional Congolese meal. It was good. For all you adoptive parents, NO I did not eat FUFU. American friends who are not adopting Congolese - think of FuFu as a dough ball. Not even a bisquick doughball, just flour and water. Yum, right? NO! I tried it the last visit and thought it was gross so I was glad he did not make it!

Imani and I had a great day. We played with friends here, we played ball, we pl...ayed with My little Pony, she played in one of the drivers cars, we watched Dora, she took a bath, clean PJs, I did her suki (hair), we brushed was great! She wanted to put socks on before bed. Apparently purple is not her favorite color because she would not put the purple ones on. After getting them on, she put her shoes on - I said no, Kolala and I turned around and she was crying on the bed. I have NO IDEA why she was crying. Well, other than she did not want to go to bed, she wanted to wear her shoes to bed or she did not want to wear her socks. So, I held her while she cried, tried to ask her what was wrong, then just held her until she fell asleep. I prayed for God to heal her brokenness because I know underneath all of her awesomeness is still a 3 year old little girl who has lived at an orphanage. I prayed she would allow me to love her and that her trust will grow.

Praise! Her birthmom went and got her ID card yesterday! THANK YOU GOD! I am so excited that this worked out. You guys just don't understand - This is Africa - things just don't happen when they are suppose to!

Did some P90X Yoga tonight with another mom. It was nice and a good stress relief! LOL

Back in country (8/1/13)


The internet seems to be working well this morning. I thought I would give you all an update.

I am LOVING being here with my girl! It was a very surreal experience arriving back. I got off the plane, went through customs and into baggage like I lived here! Met my new Congolese BFF and I even observed the custom of kissing on either cheek. Totally getting used to this! Might as well move on over here, right? HA! I love America!

I feel much different emotionally this time. I've really made peace with everything and am prepared to get things done over here. It is time for Imani to come home. Her room has been empty long enough and her brothers are tired of waiting!...

So, I don't know if you remember from my last trip, but this girl SERIOSULY loves the Fanta. So much so that home girl refused to eat her lunch and had a meltdown. So, finally she went to sleep. Then she woke up herself. We all went out to dinner yesterday and I ordered her milk - which she likes. Some others got Fanta and of course, it started. This girl cried ALL THROUGH dinner. The wait staff had a lot of pity on her and tried multiple different things to give her, but she cried the entire time. She pushed her dinner away from her. Seriously. All over Orange FANTA! You might be wondering, why the battle? Why not just give her the Fanta? Well, because, this is a power struggle. It is about so much more than just the simple act of drinking Fanta. She is testing me. We don't drink soda at home, so why am I going to allow a 3 year old to drink it here in Congo? I will either fight it with her here or at home. I would rather not fight about it at home. So, I remained calm and tried to talk to her, then gave her space and then tried to talk to her again. She wanted nothing to do with it. BUT, I know she was paying attention because last night she told me 3 times "Mommy, I sorry". I just loved on her.

Finally, a little bit of good news (7/31/13)


Praise Report: Christy just found out about an hour ago that we DO NOT have to redo Act of Adoption and adoption judgment (which would have required Imani's case to go back through the Congo courts), we just have to redo a couple other pieces of documentation (BC, PV and consent for you adoption folks) which will save us a ton of time! Praise the Lord!

DNA test (7/30/13)

Ok folks, here is an update: the interview with the birthmother went well this morning, but she doesn't have an I D card or any pics of Imani to prove she is the birth parent so the embassy is going to require the DNA test. They were going to try and get her in today to get the I D card so she can make the DNA test that will be administered on Monday. If not, she'll have to wait 2 weeks (they do the test on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month). Also, we are still waiting on word if we need to get the documents changed, so please keep praying for that as well. This is a glass is half full situation here as many things could have gone wrong and we now know what it is we need to do to get this little girl home, so we have renewed energy to focus on those things. Thank you for the prayers, support, texts, phone calls, etc...they really strengthen us.

My heart is overflowing (7/30/13)


Oh My Goodness, my heart is overflowing! Christy just called me from Congo and said that as they were driving to the market, Imani pulled out Christy's phone and said "more daddy" so they called me and I got to hear her sweet little voice say "I love you" and "Good Morning" over and over again. Thank you, Lord, for this day.

Safely in Congo (6/29/13)

Christy, after landing safely in Congo and at the house with Imani:

Made a HUGE mistake! Brought out the kindle and my girl won't go to bed! Should have waited until tomorrow! Exhausted!

Leave everything to Him (6/29/13)

A friend posted this today and I had to share it because this has rang so true for us during this process...thank you Sandy for sharing!

"Our natural inclination is to be so precise-trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next--that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. . . . To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sign of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. Leave everything to Him, and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in--but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him." My Utmost for His Highest

Travel day (6/28/13)


Watching Christy detangle and flat-ron my little ponies so that they are ready for Imani to play with when she arrives in Congo you think she's excited to see her little girl again? Lord, please let this be the trip she brings her home...

Later that day...


Left 45 minutes late for the airport! And it had NOTHING to do with my little pony! Please God! Let me get a good seat with some leg room. Complimentary upgrade to economy plus would be great!

On the plane...

Praise God! We were late to the airport, I checked in and they put red "status pending" on my luggage. Was a little freaked - then they said I did not have a seat and would have to check in for seat assignment at the gate!!! Got to gate and guess what? ECONOMY PLUS! Praise God! 5 extra inches of leg room! Off I go!

Love from Iowa (6/27/13)


Just found out that the Christian Motorcycle Association chapter that my mom and step-dad belong to in Iowa collectively prayed over Christy and Imani, their travels and the adoption last night at their rally....all 200 of them! Wow...speechless!

37 meals (6/24/13)


Made 37 meals for Rob and the kids for my trip. If I am gone for 6 weeks, then he will only have to cook 1 time a week! Pretty cool. Good thing I like to cook, right?

It's Time! -- Again (6/23/13)


Alright friends, it is time! (Again!)

I am leaving for Congo on Sunday. This is “IT”. It is a bit sooner than we thought, but, that is perfectly ok. There has been a lot of action over the last few days and our heads are spinning. We received an e-mail yesterday detailing additional costs for additional and redone documents. These new costs, coupled with the probable DNA test has now added an additional $2,000 to Imani’s adoption cost. Needless to say, we were not expecting this. We also received news yesterday that there is a very real possibility that Rob may have to come over and join me in applying for an exit letter. (Exit letter allows us to take our daughter out of the country.) I can’t even begin to tell you what that would mean for our family. We are talking thousands more dollars, unexpected time off of work and finding care for our three boys here at home. Honestly, I’m trying to not even think about that.
As someone who is very type-A and plans ahead, it is very hard for me to see how this is going to all work out. I have honestly been filled with panic for the last 24 hours. So much of our lives depends on the actions of others right now that it literally paralyzes me with fear. The amount of trust we are having to place in others’ hands is the most uncomfortable and unnatural feeling I have ever felt. When I feel like this, I always wonder, “Why God? Why are you allowing this? This was not the plan”. When I being to doubt, I always come back to these two statements:

1. Either God created the world, or He didn’t.
2. Either God raised Jesus from the dead, or He didn’t.

It is as basic as those two statements to me. If I believe those two statements, then how can I believe that God is NOT in control here? I refuse to believe that God would check out on us now. I don’t know the future, but I do know that God’s way are not just good or great, but BEST. I can’t pretend to know how long I will be in Congo. I don’t know what is going to happen with the exit letter. I don’t know if the people that need to do the things they promised will deliver. I don’t know what will happen when the money runs out and I don’t know what we will do if Rob has to travel now and then we both have to travel again to pick up our some. But, I DO KNOW these two things:

If God is for us, who can EVER be against us? Romans 8:31

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

No matter what happens, we WILL be ok. Here is how you can support us:

1. Pray for safe travels.
2. Pray for Imani’s birthmother as she will be interviewed by the Embassy next week.
3. Pray fervently that the Embassy will look upon her testimony and presented evidence with favor and NOT require a DNA test.
4. Pray for Imani’s visa to be issued quickly.
5. Pray for our exit letter to be issued without Rob’s presence and that it is done quickly.

Thank you so much.

Congo: The Road to Ruin

Here is a piece from the NY times detailing a journey of refugees on a road from Goma, DRC, which is in the eastern Congo where all of the fighting is, to a refugee camp.  This is tough, tough because this is real life...

Bombshell (7/17/13)


So, I know we've been pretty quiet the past few weeks as it pertains to what's been going on with the kid's cases, but we're ready to explain a bit and, hopefully, you'll understand why we've been taking some time to wrap our heads around what we've learned...and why it was so important for Christy to go to Congo so suddenly.

*breathe....* Ok, we've found out that Imani's birth mother is still alive and living in Kinshasa. Her father either left right before she was born or right after, so he's not in the picture at all. She has been interviewed and willingly gave up Imani to be adopted; she simply can't take care of her. She understands the process and what adoption means. To say that we were anything other than shocked when we first found out would be an understatement, but we're the point now where we realize that this is effectively no different than any other international adoption where the birth parents abandon their child.

Obviously this has thrown a little bit of a wrench in our timeline because we have to go back and get documents changed and she has to go to the Embassy on July 31st to be interviewed to ensure this is all on the up and up. What we need right now is continued, fervent prayers...prayer that the embassy interview goes well, prayer that they will not require a DNA test (which is a real possibility and would add even more time) and that through everything, Imani would remain safe, happy and healthy.

It's interesting to me when I look back and think about how optimistic we were in bringing her home in January, but we now can see part of the reason for the delays...we needed to know about Imani's birth mom, where she comes from and the true story behind her abandonment. But here is what we know to be true: God is faithful, He loves us, He loves Imani and Galvani more than we ever possibly could and this has gone according to His plan all along. So, we wait...and we pray. Thank you for your love and support, we rely heavily upon it.

At the airport feeling surreal (7/7/13)


Sitting in the airport in Belgium getting ready to board the plane back to the States. It is very surreal to think I have been in Africa TWICE in the last 3 months and have left empty handed. Very surreal. Anxious to get back to all my boys and am so excited to be home with my husband, Rob Whitver!!!! One more really long flight and I will be there!

Tough decision (7/5/13)


Friends, after much, much debate, Rob and I have decided that the best thing for me to do is to come home to wait out the rest of the process. I know some of you may be thinking, "WHAT? This was THE trip. You were supposed to bring Imani home! You went to Africa and are leaving AGAIN without her?" (Ok, so some of you might not be thinking that, but we did!)

Here is the deal. We have learned invaluable information about our little girl that we never would have known had I not come here for myself. When I say invaluable, I truly mean that even right this second, I would get on a plane to Africa, again, to learn this information. I wish that I could spell it all out for you, but I can not - one day, maybe.

There is light at the end of our tunnel. A couple days ago, I was n...ot positive that our daughter would ever come home - even two days ago we discussed walking away, but the information we have learned makes it clear that she is a true orphan in need of a forever family - which is all we ever wanted. We have even learned more and confirmed our son's story. So, again, this trip has been invaluable.

The reason I am coming home is this - we do not know if the Embassy is going to put us back in "line" with everyone or if they will work us in. If we get put in "line" then any appointment we get will be in August. There are certain things that must be done before the actual Visa appointment so we are a couple steps away from that. IF it's the BIG IF, they work us in, it will still be 4 weeks at minimum until we are on a plane home. I've been here almost 2 weeks. Truthfully, I am not strong enough to live here for that long. It is hard. Galvani is hard - and he is growing more and more attached every single day. Yes, that is GREAT, but, I will have to leave him at some point. He is already waking up in the middle of the night looking for me if I have to get up to go to the bathroom. The longer I am here, the harder it will be for him when I leave. Also, for being in one of the top 3 most poor countries in the world, it is SUPER expensive to live here and to eat here. I am spending a TON of money just on food alone - I can't eat much of the local fare as it is not safe to eat unless I am signing up to get sick.

It makes the most sense to come home and wait out of the rest of the process. It could be 4 weeks or 8 weeks. We do not have the financial capability to make that work - essentially running two households in two different countries while we are split up. This has been a terribly hard decision to make, but I hope you all can see some of the reasons and will at least respect our decision.

Thank you for all of your love and support over the last 2 weeks. ♥♥♥

A little bit of light... (7/4/13)


Ok, so the meeting went well and things are looking up for Imani coming home. thank you to all that have been praying. the road is still long and wrought with pitfalls, but with your prayerful help, I think we are starting to see a glimmer of light in the tunnel.

Big day tomorrow (7/2/13)


Tomorrow is a big day, folks. The director of our agency is meeting with the Embassy tomorrow and we are hopeful that she will have some very good news for us regarding Imani's visa. If not, our case will probably be kicked back to the US immigration office for further review, which means more time in the process and that Christy would probably need to leave the kids there yet again. If you are the praying kind, we could sure use some right now. Thank you!

3 things (6/30/13)


Little did I know that breakfast would be the start to a really rough day. This has been one of those days that I thank GOD it is over! Three bright spots to the day:

#1. Church - we went to church. It is an international church. It was a neat experience. I think what I enjoyed the most was a prayer session where a Congolese person was praying for the country. It was intense. She prayed with more fervency and faith than I think we Americans are used to. She prayed that innocent blood would not being shed in this country and for rapes to stop. Like I said it was intense, but gave me a reality check. I've been so absorbed with my adoption that I have forgotten about things that are going on in the world as well.

#2. Brownies and Ice cream for dinner. Enough said....

#3. A friend who has walked beside me, held my hand, cried for me and with me, and been a never ceasing encourager arrived here in Congo with her husband this evening. I want to cry because there are very few people who understand this road we have been on and for her to be here brings me so much joy.....I'm relieved that she is here!

Thank you God that this day is OVER! Please let tomorrow be a better day!

Small Victory! (6/30/13)



As much as two people can argue in different languages, Galvani and I had a battle of the wills. He wanted bread for breakfast and I made oatmeal. I have been told to set clear boundaries from the very beginning. So, I set this boundary. Over an hour later he was still crying and I was beginning to doubt myself. REALLY DOUBT. Galvani was crying so it in turn was making the other little boy cry. He would have eaten it if Galvani had not thrown a fit. I had one of the older girls come and tell Galvani, "No bread. Eat your oatmeal and then you can have bread." He yelled at her and kept crying. I went to sit right outside the dining room and 2 minutes later, Galvani comes out with a smile on his face with the cup of oatmeal. My guess is he tried it when I walked away and decided it was good!!!!

Small Victory!

Day 5 (6/29/13)


Been in Africa since Monday. My kids arrived to me on Tuesday, so, I have had them 4 days. I have gone through 5 loaves of bread and 40 ounces of peanut butter. The kids would eat all the time if I would let them. My daughter had a meltdown over Fanta today and my son is now whining because Dora is over. Oh, did I mention the lice? As a woman and mother whose has NEVER had to deal with lice, this is a BLAST. Lice gives me the heebe jeebes - I'm sure that is why I am dealing with it. Welcome to Africa!

Thankful to be in a place with women (and a couple dads) who I have gotten to know along the journey. Not sure I would be strong enough to do this by myself!

Today was another very decent day. We went to the Kinshasa Zoo. Now before some of you start asking, yes, Kinshasa, DR...C has a zoo. Not the best, but certainly not the worst I have seen. It was nice to get out of the four walls of the compound. A few of us went to a real Congo "market" - not the Super Marche. At the Super Marche you are relatively safe and people tend to leave you alone. At the real Congo market everything goes! I was kinda scared. On numerous occasions I told myself, "Just relax and pretend you know what you are doing." "Pretend this is not your first time." "Pretend that you speak French and you know how many francs equals a dollar". "Pretend you do not see that lady plucking feathers off a freshly killed chicken with more live ones at her feet." It was interesting and I swear my parents would have a coronary if they knew where I was. My mom called me when I was on my way to the airport coming here and said, "We were watching that show River Monsters last night and he was on Congo. He said that is the most dangerous country in the world. Are you sure you want to go?" I felt like say, "You know what? I had no idea, Mom. You are right, I don't want to go, I'm turning around and on my way home right now."

Don't get me wrong - Congo can be very scary, but so if downtown Richmond - only difference here is that the police carry machine guns in their arms instead of pistols on their belts. Most of the danger I feel is because I am not schooled in the culture. As I learn more and more about the culture, I grow less scared of being out - at least during the day. Yes, people stare. Yes, they stare even more when you have your African children with you. Yes, it makes me uncomfortable at times, but what should I do? Stay confined in these walls? NO WAY!

We are going to church tomorrow. Very excited to get to church - and it is FREE! This is an English church, so, doubly excited!

The Esther Generation (6/29/13)

A link to an article shared by a friend;  truly a great read and touching.

Day 4 (6/29/13)

Two days ago we went to visit the orphanage where the kids are from. Since one of my friends is coming, I brought her son with us when we left. He is a doll and is so excited to be here with some of his friends. I've facetimed with his family and he just loves it! Needless to say, The three kids are in the bed and I pulled a mattress from an unused room into my room and onto the floor. This worked out pretty good the night before - because I promise you - Galvani is a gymnast in deep cover. The child takes up most of the king size bed rolling around at night. Elbows and knees in my back!

So, anyway, even being on the floor did not help me get sleep last night as Galvani's stomach was hurting and he wanted to be with me. So, I let him lay with me and so it was the both of us on a... twin size mattress. How he slept, I have no idea because I sure did not. I moved him in the middle of the night and he was not happy, but finally he went back to sleep. but don't worry, he woke up at the crack of dawn for water, then woke the other two kids up too! Today is going to be rough. I do not do well without my sleep. I need about 6 hours to function and I's not sure if I have gotten that. We'll see.

I found out some information yesterday about our case that was a little....different than what we thought. It's ok, I think, but we need your prayers. I cannot stay here indefinitely, so I will need the Embassy to start moving on things. Yesterday was sort of rough as a whole group of people received emails from the Embassy that their cases were ready for visa appointments. We were all a little depressed, but, we are hoping with lots of prayer we can get some information from the Embassy this week.

As if the strawberry example might not have been enough - I needed to buy some bath towels yesterday. I went to the larger "City Market" and found one that would work perfect. Problem - $26 dollars. I about had a heart attack. Needless to say, I did not buy that one. I bought the 5 dollar one.

Other than that, the kids are doing great. They are really enjoying eating and we have been able to get our housekeeper to make them local food which they are really enjoying.

Day 2 (6/27/13)


So, here I am in Africa. Had a really good second day with the kids. Even went to the orphanage today and they did great. I went to the grocery store for the third time. Seriously? Yep. I'm a fruit-a-holic and I saw some nice looking strawberries at the market. Guess how much. no, really, guess. Would you believe it if I told you $25 dollars for less than a pint? I think it was 7 strawberries. A three pound bag of apples - $8. Guess I won't be eating any fruit.

The kids are great. Imani started testing me last night. We had spaghetti for dinner. I put her plate in front of her and she pushed it away shaking her head no. I put it back, she pushed away. We did this several times. I put it back in front of her and turned my head. I could see out of the corner of my eye that...
she did not push it all the way out. I engaged in conversation with other parents and then I saw it! She stole a little noodle and ate it. Then, of course, she ate almost the entire plate.
Galvani is awesome. It will take him awhile to become a kid. It is very apparent that as one of the older kids in the orphanage that he helped take care of the littler ones. He can speak some English which is a HUGE help. We have a tutor type person who is coming next week for a couple hours a day and I will see if he is interested. Imani had a meltdown over rice today. Long story. Kind of funny now, but really frustrating in the moment.

Congo is a third world country. It is going to be very difficult to be here for an undetermined amount of time. Suddenly questioning myself.....I think the magnitude of leaving the states for such a long time (possibly) is really weighing on me. Please say a prayer of strength for me and for Rob. This is going to be very hard on both of us and our boys at home.

Safely with my babies (6/25/13)


Ok, I'm here. It was very long and very exhausting. The kids came this morning and have been a delight ALL day. I am so happy to be with them! Galvani can already say Dillan, James and Ben when I point to their pictures! YEAH! It has been a tiring day, but I will try to get some pictures uploaded tomorrow as we will not be so busy! LOL

Leaving for Africa (6/23/13)


Leaving for Congo today. Feeling a little emotional and the "I know I forgot something" feeling is weighing heavily upon me. I will be traveling over 24 hours to get there - it will be long and tiring. I am pretty sure the kids will be waiting for me when I get there, so there will not be any resting. Please say a prayer for safe travels, strength, energy, and bonding with the kids!

Need prayers (6/20/13)

We need prayers! The Embassy is investigating all cases with very in-depth scrutiny and it is taking a long time. Our agency has made the request they review a few things they have submitted. We are awaiting a response. Please take a few moments to pray for our case and favor with the US Embassy to do this as expeditiously as possible. There are several other adoptive parents in the same situation who would also appreciate your prayers. I know there is power in prayer and we could use a lot right now! Thank You! Love to you all!

Need a visa/got a visa (6/21/13)

On my way to the DRC Embassy in Washington DC to get a visa in my passport so I can get on a plane to Congo Sunday night. Please say a prayer. the answer they gave me yesterday was "Maybe, Maybe not". I don't usually cry, but I'm on the verge of tears anyway, so.....they just may get them!

Later that day:

Christy got her visa and she leaves for Congo on Sunday! Please continue to be in prayer for this process; there are a lot of things up in the air right now and circumstances seem to change daily. Thank you!

Getting frustrated (6/17/13)

6/17/13, Rob:

Ughhh! This is beginning to get very frustrating with this lack of movement on either one of the kid's cases. Please pray with us that we and the other 9 families in our orphanage get visa appointments this week and that we get word that we're at least in court for Galvani's case. We need to get our baby girl home and get his case moving along.

A glimpse into Congo (6/14/13)

A glimpse into our children's country...

Quick update (6/7/13)

6/7/13, Rob:
Quick update for everyone: we still have no news from the Embassy regarding the investigation for Imani's case. We are hopeful that we will hear something any day now, but as of yet we still don't know anything more. We have heard that some people have started receiving notification that their investigations are complete and have had visa appointment dates set for them, so that gives us hope that ours will be coming soon. To say that this has been a frustrating last couple of weeks would be a gross understatement, but we are trying to focus on the truth that God is in control of this process and we are simply waiting for Him to finish clearing her pathway home. Thank you for the prayers, we need them badly.

Need an appointment (5/28/13)

Friends, I really, really need some prayer. We know the Embassy has begun scheduling appointments. PLEASE say a prayer that we get the magic email this week and that our appointment is next week. I'm at the end of my rope and not sure what else to do.

Leaving my babies (5/12/13)

Leaving my babies in Africa was 10 times harder than I thought it would be. They spent the night with me and finally started to come out of their shell (Imani more than Galvani - but he loved me from the first moment!). The morning I had to take her back was sooo hard, but I have had a lot of experience "stuffing" my feelings, so I was able to stuff them for awhile. Everyday that I am home with out them marks another day that they are without me. I would be lying if I did not say that I fully expected a miracle in Africa. I'm trying very hard to reconcile my timeline with God's timeline. 

Sleep over!!! (5/4/13)

So I'm missing Christy terribly so I just called her this morning and got a huge surprise; she was able to bring Imani and Galvani to the hotel for a sleepover last night! In fact, everyone who was on the trip that had children in an orphanage it was a hotel full of mama's and their children. Thank you Lord! She was able to give them both showers which Imani thoroughly loved even though the water was freezing cold. She said that it took her quite a while to warm up to Christy, but now she is very spunky and chatty, so she'll fit right in here. Galvani is very sweet and has really taken to Christy and Imani. She said they play very well together, share food with each other and Christy (I'm shocked!) and Galvani even stuck Imani's little toy in his pocket last night and gave it back to her this morning. It was awesome just listening to them chatter in the background and listen to Christy interact with them...and man do they talk fast! They had a great night, although Christy had to sleep on the tile floor, and now they are just hanging out, playing and snacking on Slim Jim's....they are a huge hit with the kids. She said she also brought a little boy named Enoch with her because he doesn't have a family yet so she wanted to include him...that woman's heart is huge! Love her.

Praise Report! (4/30/13)

Praise report: It appears that Imani does not have malaria. Her name in the orphanage is Esther and there is another Esther and she's the one with Malaria. While I'm very happy that my daughter is healthy, the other Esther still needs your prayers (we know the family that is adopting her).

At the orphanage (4/30/13)

I just spoke to a very excited Christy; they are at the orphanage! I also got to talk to Galvani for a quick minute and his English is coming along quite the bad news; Imani has malaria and is very weak. They found out yesterday and she's already on medicine but she's just laying in Christy's arms drifting in and out of sleep. Christy did say that malaria over there is like the common cold here; everyone gets it but please say an extra prayer for her that she gets better. The agency director told Christy she would get to come back before the end of her trip to check on her again.

Headed to Congo (4/28/13)

So in case you didn't know, Christy left yesterday headed for Congo with several totes full of supplies for the orphanage. She met up with several other adoptive mommas in Newark and they all flew together over to DRC. Hopefully tomorrow she'll be able to visit the orphanage where Galvani and Imani are and get to meet them for the first time! Please keep her and her group in your prayers. 

Got a passport! (4/18/13)

We finally recieved our daughter's passport today! And it is CORRECT! In third world countries it is 50/50 on correctness! Praising God right now for this!

It's been a while...

Our blog has been eerily silent for quite a while now, I know.  We have hit several pretty big roadblocks along the path, ones that we couldn't even wrap out heads and hearts around, but now we're ready to explain what's been going on.  We've been keeping a private FB page since our last entry here and over the next several days I'll be transferring the entries from there onto the blog here.  Thank you for your patience, prayers and support...we value all three very much.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Doin alright...

It's day 7 now of just the boys and I;  Christy has been in Congo visiting our babies!  I'm happy to report that everyone is still alive and doing pretty well, considering.  I've been fortunate enough to talk to Christy on several occasions and she's had an amazing trip;  she even got to bring the kids to the hotel last night for a sleepover!  The internet has been nothing short of abysmal over there so she hasn't been able to provide her own updates but she will once she is home, but I did want to convey some thoughts about her trip from my perspective here.

Nerves, nerves and more nerves.  Call me old-fashioned, but I feel it's my job to protect my wife and my family from any harm, so sending my wife on a plane halfway across the world to a third-world country by herself wasn't an ideal situation for me.  I was far more nervous about her leaving than I think I let on to her because I didn't want to add to her stress, but the reality for me was that I wasn't going to be there to protect her and that didn't sit well with me.  Fortunately there is strength in numbers and she was travelling with a large group of other women;  plus, if you've ever met my wife, you know that she can handle herself very well and is not to be trifled with!  And I mean that in the most endearing way possible;  she's a fighter and it's one of the qualities that attracted me to her in the first place.  BUT, I would be lying if I didn't say that I checked her flight status every 5 minutes after I knew it was supposed to have landed in DRC just to make sure she'd at least made it on the ground safely. 

I was also a little panicked at the thought of me and my 3 boys surviving for a minimum of 10 days fending for ourselves.  I promise, I used to know how to cook...I mean, I survived for several years out of high school until I met her...but it seems as though that particular skill has since eroded since she's such a wonderful cook.  But, she already knew this and had pre-cooked and frozen meals for us for the week, so we're doin alright.  Additionally, her mother is still living with us and she's really stepped up to the plate and helped out in the evenings, which has been a God-send.  I think it peculiar that she's still here after a year and a half, but my suspicion is that God knows we need the help and that's why she's still here.  The boys and I have had a pretty good week together, hanging out getting some good father, son time in, laughing and carry on like boys do, and we've even managed to get a load of laundry or two done (whites and darks can be washed together, right???) 

This being said, we miss momma terribly and can't wait until she gets home in a few days.  It was our prayer that somehow, someway she would be able to bring Imani home with her on this trip but it appears as though that's not going to happen.  While it makes sense in our minds that this would be the perfect time since she's in country, it seems that we have a limited understanding of the big picture and that the timing simply isn't right yet.  We are trusting in the promise that His plan is the best plan and it appears as though He is still making the way for her to come home (Isaiah 45:2). 

Thank you to everyone who's checked in on us this week and for your prayers, we covet them as we know that He hears all of them.


Saturday, April 20, 2013


Do you believe in spiritual warfare?  I think it is one of those things that I know exists, but when people start talking about angels and demons fighting, I just kinda tune it out.  I feel like, "yeah, yeah, spiritual warfare mumbo jumbo....."

God gave me this scripture:

Isaiah 45: 2-3

I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.  I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

I can not tell you how GREAT this verse is!  Purely AWESOME!  We are waiting on so many things right now and trying to make some hard decision, and I just knew, God was telling me - "I got this. I'm not going to move the mountain, I'm gonna LEVEL that thing!!!  And I'm going to do it, just because I want you to know WHO I AM and that I have YOU by name!"  WOW!  I was feeling pretty incredible.

So, let me tell you about the last 11 days.  I've been in my last two weeks of work, so getting things settled and finished up was stressful - or so I thought.  Here is the summary:

4/10 - Ben throws up at school - I had to go get him
4/11 - Dillan starts throwing up at 4am - both are home from school
4/12 - Dillan home from school again - I come home from work at 2:30 because I start to feel sick and my throat is on FIRE (start antibiotic for strep throat)
4/13 - Ben throws up again all over the kitchen - by the end of the day, James is feeling sick - I am feeling very weak and still sick
4/14 - James is still sick and begins throwing up, I am feeling mostly better
4/15 - James is still not feeling good, Rob wakes up and does not feel good.  He calls in sick and stays home with James.  I have to leave work at 11 because I almost throw up 3 times.  Rob and I get much sicker as the day progresses - our joints hurt so bad...(I am unable to take antibiotic) and my mom has to care for the boys in the evening because we are too sick. I prayed to God, please, heal us!  this is crazy!  We can't be sick again tomorrow!
4/16 - Dillan is throwing up again.  He and I stay home . By the end of the evening, Ben has this strange rash.  I do some research and talk to some moms and think it is 5th disease.  Great.
4/17 - Rob decides to take Ben to the doctor, just in case, STREP THROAT!  Rob and I split this day and I come home at lunch so he can go to work.
4/18 - All kids go to school for the first time in a week.  James and I run some errands while Dillan is at soccer practice.  He tells me his throat hurts. As I am tucking him in, he continues to complain that his throat hurts more.
4/19 - (My LAST day of work) I take James to the doctor - STREP THROAT!


As if all that was not bad enough, my strep throat caused my skin condition to blow up (I do not know a better word to describe this)!  It causes extreme itching and little red spots to appear all over my body.  The last time this happened, I called the Dermatologist and told the receptionist, "You must get me in TODAY or I am going to rip my face off." 

So needless to say, I am feeling a little worn out.  If I ever doubted spiritual warfare, then I don't now!  Yes, our family has passed germs around to each other many times, but we have NEVER ALL gotten it - and then been sick TWICE!  Talk about frustrating!  The odd thing about this, my mother who is still living with us, didn't get ANY of it.  She is ALWAYS sick - yet she stayed healthy as a horse through all of this.  Little crazy, right????  OMG!

What to hear some GOOD news though???????


Now, all we need is that visa from the Embassy and she can come home!

Please say a little prayer for healing....


Thursday, April 4, 2013

What is wrong with these balls!?!?!?!?

My last day of full-time employment is April 19th.  I admit it, I am scared.  Scared to death actually.  I have no idea what is going to happen, but what I can tell you is that when I started to doubt that I was suppose to "come home", God made it painfully obvious that it was his plan.  So, we are stepping out in faith that he will provide.  I am doing all I know to do.  We are analyzing the budget and trying to find ways to cut costs.  We are pairing down the cable to the bare minimum that will not cause us to cancel our contract and pay the early termination fee.  We have saved my last couple of paychecks.  And we have been working on cutting lots of other things - especially the food budget - or as I call it, the "Walmart budget".  I mean, who buys just food there?  Someone always needs something that is NOT food related and it always gets bought.  Know what I mean?  Yeah, you do!

So, there has been lots of hubbub over make it yourself cleaners, laundry soap, glass cleaner, and these stupid BALLS!!!!  These balls have become the bane of my existence the last couple of weeks.  There are directions all over the Internet for these balls, but for some reason, mine are not working.  Take a look:

WHAT IS WRONG HERE?  I'm getting mad now.  You may be wondering, um, what is that ball exactly?  This is suppose to be a "felted wool dryer ball".  Only, mine aren't felting.  No idea why.  I followed the directions.  I actually washed them multiple times and they STILL will not felt.  Then, when I tried to felt them one more time they unwound in the wash.  What's up with that?  UGH!  I went to JoAnn's Fabrics because I was able to "convince" Rob to let me try one more time, so i was looking for wool roving (no, I have no idea what this is, but i was looking for it.)  Couldn't find it, so I am contemplating what to do next with these things.

Next, thanks to my friend Laura, I made my own All Purpose Cleaner:

You know what?  I like it!  Alot!  Here is the recipe:

All Purpose Cleaner
2 Tablespoons Vinegar
1 teaspoon of Borax
a few drops of mild dish soap
10 drops of essential oil (optional)
In a 16 spray bottle put vinegar, borax and hot water. Swish around until borax has dissolved. Add the drops of dish detergent and fill the rest of the bottle with water. Add the essential oil - any you want - lavender, orange, lemon!
Then, there was a thread on saving money in one of the adoption boards about making laundry cleaner.  I had made the liquid one before and was not very excited to do it again, but the cost effectiveness is unbelievable.  Then, someone posted a powder form and I knew that was the one:

This is pretty awesome!  I was SO SURPRISED how well this worked.  The whole thing cost about 16 dollars to make - including the tub you see.  It is going to last about 4 - 6 months!  Can you imagine?  6 months!  That's alot of savings!  Here is the recipe, in case you would like to try it, but be careful, it makes ALOT!

Laundry Detergent
1 box of Borax
1 box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
3 bars of Fels-Naptha
1 small tub of Oxi-Clean
1 large bottle of Downy Unstoppables (for the fresh smell)
Dump all ingredients into large container.  Grate the Fels-Naptha with a cheese grater, the smallest grater, into the tub.  Mix well.  Use 1/8 cup per load.  I found that a coffee scoop is exactly 1/8th cup!
So, needles to say, I am pretty excited about these cost savings.  If you can help me figure out what is wrong with my dryer balls, please let me know, I'm dying to fix them!
I'm sure some of you were hoping on an adoption update - I am too!  Will update with more exciting stuff later this week or early next week - not adoption related!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

To our family...

I was talking with a friend the other day and he was saying, like many others have been, about how lucky and fortunate our two adoptive children are to be joining our family, and while I really appreciate the sentiment, it got me to thinking...what is "family?"

If you ask Webster's Dictionary, it'll tell you that family is a household, a group of individuals living under one roof and under one head, a group of persons having a common ancestory or a social unit consisting of one or two parents and their children.  True, all of us have people in our lives that we've grown to love, trust and support over the years because we're related to them through our parents in some fashion or another and we traditionally know these people to be family.  But I think family is much more than that.

These four walls in our house do not define what we consider our family to be.  Having the same ancestors with someone does not encompass who we consider to be in our family.  Our family includes fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, but it also includes you people we consider to be vitally important to our daily lives;  you people who are close friends, who are neighbors, who are fellow church members, who are mentors and who are confidants.  You people who are seperated from us by miles of pavement and some, even, who we've never met in person yet talk to on a daily basis through common interests.  You have been woven into the fabric of our lives by a loving and compassionate God who has placed you in our paths to become integral parts of our journey.  We value you far more than you possibly even realize and consider you just as a part of our family as our loved ones who were born into it.

My friend was right, our two adoptive children have no idea the family they are coming home to;  they really don't know what "family" is.  They don't know what the word brother or sister truly means because they come from a place where poverty, famine, sickness and war tears families apart. They end up on the streets struggling to survive and only the lucky ones end up in an orphanage where hopefully a loving family wants them.  It's knowing these harsh realities that we realize that it's not these four walls or this last name that these children are so blessed to be coming home to, but it's you and us together that will truly be the blessing. 

So, we thank you for loving us and being a part of our lives, and we look forward to introducing our newest additions to you so that you can love of them like you've so adequately loved on us. 

God Bless...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

So many things!

So many things have happened since our last post that it will probably take a couple of posts to catch everything up! 

First of all can I just say - STUCK!  If you have not seen or heard about this movie, please go see it when it comes to your town or buy it online here:

This is an awesome look into international adoption - corruption, red tape and everything in between. It was truly an awesome movie!  We went opening night and it was great.  They had a question and answer session afterwards that was really neat as well.  They had the "producer" - the man whose idea this was, they had a local adoptive parent couple that had adopted 9 children and then they had the President of the National Council for Adoption.  It was wonderful.  I did get a chance to speak with the president of the National Council for Adoption afterwards and he was really nice.  I spoke to him about the Embassy changes and the new process in Congo and he was really helpful! (Can't share on a public blog. Sorry!)

Sometimes it is hard to understand what it is like being in this "waiting" phase of adoption.  Some liken it to being "paper pregnant".  Anyway you look at it the fact remains - THIS IS SO HARD!  And I hate waiting!  Although, I understand now, that part of the reason for our additional wait time was to open our hearts to a second child.  If we had been ready to travel when we were "supposed" to be, then we never would have accepted "G"'s referral and I know without a shadow of a doubt that he was intended to be our son.

I can't begin to think that I know all of God's plan for my life - or the life of my family.  He is introducing His plan according to His will - not mine.  Last year, I had this vision (not a sparkly picture or anything) "planted" in my mind.  I told it to Rob and he was like, "Oh yeah? Hmmmm".  It seemed that every avenue I went down to even BEGIN pursuing this idea was a dead end.  I went and met with one of our pastors - he said, "Christy, I don't know how you are making your life work right now.  You need to wait.  This would not be something you should do right this second."  Needless to say, I was a disappointed.  A couple of weeks later, Rob and I met with another guy from our church who has alot of christian connections since I figured it was time to change jobs.  Do you know what he said?  "Christy, you guys have alot going on right now and I'm not sure you should be changing jobs."  OMG!  Needless to say, I got the message LOUD and CLEAR.

Every so often, I have been thinking about my idea or "vision", but it never felt right.  Rob was not totally on board either.  To him this was just one of my crazy ideas.........

Then, in February, I was in church and we were having a sermon on being "BOLD".  I felt it.  NOW, it is time.  GO!  

And I went!  And it is exciting!  And Rob is ON FIRE and just as passionate about it as I am!  We are so excited!!!  Details will be coming soon!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Our cups runneth over...

Yesterday was truly a remarkable day.  It started a little before 6 a.m. with a phone call...from Africa!  And on the other end of the phone we heard the sweetest little voice say "Bonjour Momma."  Oh My Goodness!  Let me explain...

One of the directors of the adoption "agency" that we are using is over in DRC right now with two other adoptive mothers on a visit to deliver supplies and food that all of us adoptive parents collected to the orphanages our kids are coming from.  Yesterday they were in our orphanage and had the opportunity to get some of the older kids on the phone for a quick call back here to the states.  WOW!  What a blessing it was to be able to hear their sweet voices, even if only for a short 30 seconds, but it was so encouraging and uplifting to hear them.  What a way to start the day...

Then, later in the day the pictures started rolling in on the "agency's" FB page of their visit from today, and man did they take a lot of pics.  It was incredible to see new pics of our kiddos, especially the pics of Galvani and Imani together;  they've been told that the same family is adopting them both and that they'll be brother and sister, and by the pics, it looks as though they are getting used to the idea.  Not only were there pics of our kids, but also pics of everyone else's kids as well.  It was so much fun, all of us sitting in front of our computers, hitting refresh looking for the latest pic that was uploaded and then seeing the flood of comments pour in, fawning over each child...even if they weren't your own.  I'm truly amazed by how supportive the adoption community is of it's own;  these people have become so important to us and we haven't even met any of them...yet. 

If you've noticed, I keep referring to our agency in quotation marks...why?  Our agency, DRCAS (Democratic Repuplic of Congo Adoption Services), is not your typical agency.  When I think of an agency, I think of a business with offices and overheard and tons of staff;  not true with DRCAS.  DRCAS started off with two women, mothers who saw the plight of orphans and decided to do something about it.  These women has since dedicated their lives to advocating for these children and working tirelessly to provide an ethical adoption program for those of us who want to provide a forever home to these children.  And here's the real kicker, their desire is for this agency to be built with the families who have used their services, to the point that there are committees to help guide the path of the agency that are entirely made up of adoptive parents.  You won't find that in any other about accountability and transparency.  What a blessing it is to be a part of this group of people who's only desire is to help the fatherless.

God is good...all the time...especially yesterday. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

People are watching...

Today is a horrible day, one of those days where you just want to hop back in bed and sleep through it.  Today i'm fighting with my wife (over something I did), my kids aren't listening and appear to hate me, things are breaking at work, stress is at an all-time high and I'm completely frustrated...a regular soup-sandwich over here.  (Okay, i'll explain:  a soup sandwich is something that is completely can't make a sandwhich out of's a Navy term, sorry)  In fact, I'm supposed to meet with my mentor for our weekly get together but I don't feel like talking about anything so I think I'm going to cancel on him. 

That was 2 hours ago...not a great way to start the day...

Well, I didn't cancel on him;  I went because I figured something good had to come out of it...the only place I had to go was up, so I might as well give it a shot...and God came through in a tremendous way.  After meeting my mentor, Shaun, at Panera he asks if it's ok that a mutual friend of ours, Bruce, meets us here as well...of course, brother Bruce is always welcome.  In fact, I first met Shaun and Bruce on a missions trip I went on late last year to Honduras;  I was so impacted by them and how, as grown men, they were so open about their faith and love for Jesus.  That's not something that I was accustomed to, or was comfortable with either, but I knew then that I had to get time with men like these two.  So we're sitting there in Panera, drinking our coffee, and talking about what's going on with the adoptions and I'm sharing some ideas that Christy and I have for a non-profit helping to supplement orphanages around the world.  We're talking about how great God its, about how it's amazing when we look back on where we were and where we are now and where God is taking us, and a stranger walks up to our table.  He proceeds to tell us that he was sitting at the table next to us and was evesdropping on our conversation;  I'm thinking he's not happy with all of this God-talk and is going to ask us to tone it down...he is, by the way, one of the employees there.  Instead, he proceeds to tell us that he's an ordained minister from a local community church and it was so encouraging to him to hear us talking openly and freely about our faith and that he just wanted to come over and say thanx!


Here I am, trying to get time with guys who share their faith openly and now I'm part of a group of men that has impacted someone else in that very same way.  That, right there, was a turning point in my day and a huge sign for me that these things that I'm struggling with, the things that are getting me down today, are just the enemy attacking me.  He didn't realize it, but him coming to our table and saying thanx for encouraging him in turn provided a huge lift of encouragement to me and taught me yet another lesson that I thought I'd already learned:  People are watching you, especially as Christians;  how you act and what you say will impact them for good, or for bad. 

So, I'm changing the first sentence of this post.  Today is going to be a great day...

God Bless!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Thank you...

We just want to send out a sincere, heartfelt thankyou to everyone who donated and shared our story this past week for the Give1 Save1 campaign.  We are happy to report that you raised enough money to provide the last bit of travel expenses for us to be able to go get Imani once her visa investigation is completed.  In addition to that, you provided close to 2,000 additional dollars that will immediately be used towards Galvani's adoption!  As you may have heard, adoption is very expensive so we are humbled by your generosity and willingness to get involved to help us bring our children home.  While we fail to capture the right words to thank all of you properly, please know that you have made a huge, everlasting impact on the lives of two special children who will, because of your donations, have hope for a future that wouldn't have otherwise been possible.  God Bless!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Love Abounds....

I am so overwhelmed by the generosity of others.  I am even more overwhelmed by the generosity and blessing of our Lord!  When we were selected to be the featured family on Give 1 Save 1 I had no idea what to expect.  I'm not even talking about the financial part!  I have been truly blown away by several things:

1.) Willingness to Share - I can not believe how many people shared our Give 1 Save 1 "campaign"!  We have spent the week catching up on all the "shares" to make sure that we have everyone for the giveaway.  I am also blown away by the amount of MEN who shared!  One of my neighbors, S, is a man's man - you have to be a really good friend to see the sensitive side of him - He shared!  I almost lost it when I saw that he shared!  I want everyone to know how much every share means to me  and I thank you so much!

2.) Repeat Donators - One of the reasons we wanted to do Give 1 Save 1 was to get out of our "circle" of past donators.  Wouldn't you know it that we have so many repeat donators.  A member of our church family who is adopting from Haiti, they have supported EVERY fundraiser we have done.  I was shocked and touched when I saw them donate to our Give 1 Save 1.  Another church family, who is dealing with a serious sickness of their baby girl - donated again.  I just can't believe how many people have been repeaters!  It is truly mind blowing and most definitely humbling.  My church is amazing!  The giving nature of all of these donators is amazing!

3.) Notes of encouragement - I can't believe how many people have sent us notes of encouragement and praises for what we are doing.  Let me stress, we are not amazing, we are not to be awed, we are plain, ordinary folks who are stepping out for Jesus.  That's all!  We fight, we love, we make mistakes, we yell at the kids!  We are not awesome people without flaw!  We are two people who have been deeply impacted by James 1:27:

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

I could not send Galvani to a state run orphanage.  I could not do it.  For the rest of my life I would have thought about it and what happened to him and regretted not helping him.  He's just a boy.  He DESERVES a family just as much as you or I.  I don't care about any "issues" he may have.  He is a boy who needs love and a Mom and a Dad.  That's it.  Seems pretty simple to me.

4.) Adoption Community - Can I just say WOW! WOW! WOW!?????  My friend Heather once told me the adoption community is so accepting and loving and supportive.  I knew that.....I now know I REALLY KNOW IT!  I feel like the adoption community ran their own "shock and awe" campaign on us!  You would not believe how many other adoptive parents that have given to us.  It is AMAZING!  Rob and I have decided that we are going to do our part to give back to the adoption community.  What better place to spend our money than on items to bring kids home into a forever family? Adoption friends - YOU ARE AMAZING!  Your heart and your willingness to give WHILE fundraising yourself is what inspires me!  Thank you so much!

Speaking of fundraisers!  Rob and I have decided that our Give 1 Save 1 Campaign will be our last fundraiser.  No, we do NOT have all of the money for Galvani's adoption.  BUT, I can tell you this:  What God has called us to do, HE is faithful to finish it!  We have received so many random reminders- almost daily - that I know without a doubt that God has this!  He is faithful!  Not sure how it will work out,but I know it will!!!!

Thank you for following our journey.  Thank you for your support.  Thank you for reminding us that we were created in God's image and we all have at least a piece of his goodness inside of us.

Have a blessed day!  It's Friday!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Completely humbled...

What an amazing, humbling day yesterday was.  So many people have donated and shared our story in order to help us, many of whom we don't even know!  Wow, wow, wow...I'm truly at a loss for words with the generiosity of so many.  There is one donation in particular that completely broke me down that I wanted to share with you, not because it's a large sum of money but because it is a powerful testimony of God's provision and blessing, and as an added bonus my oldest son Dillan (12) got to learn first-hand this lesson with me.

Sometime yesterday morning, while I was trying desperately to keep track of the shares on FB of our story for the giveaway we are doing, the doorbell rang.  In some houses everyone comes to the front door, but not ours...friends and family come in through the garage, knock and then come in, so the doorbell ringing was an unusual occurance.  Dillan beat me to the door and on the porch was an envelop that simply said "Give 1, Save1" on it, nothing more, and an SUV drove quickly away, no idea who it was inside.  So he brought the envelope inside, opened it and exclaimed "Dad, there's cash in here!" and I could tell that it wasn't just a couple of bills.  I asked him to read me the note that accompanied the donation because I could already feel my emotions welling up inside me and I wasn't sure I could even talk.  This is what the note said:

We are so proud of your family!!!  What an inspiration you are to all of us at Journey.  We were so moved when we heard Christy's testmony after her trip to Haiti.  You guys are amazing!  We are so inspired by people who truly hear God's voice put something on their hearts and then are courageous enough to act on it!!  What a blessing this will  be to your 3 sons here and the daughter and son you are about to join into your family!  May God continue to bless you!

And with tears streaming down my face, Dillan counted out the donation;  100, 200, 500...1000 dollars!  I couldn't take it...I broke down into a sobbing mess. 

Why do I share this with you?  I'm hesitant to even share the amount.  It's certainly not because I want to be boastful or proud, it's because I want to show that with God all things are possible.  In a moment where I was worried about how in the world are we going to raise enough money to adopt Galvani as well as Imani, God came through in a big way and showed me that we won't be able to in a worldly way, but He can and will in only ways that He can orchestrate.  And to have my son witness this powerful example with me is something that I am truly, truly thankful for...a hundred words couldn't have taught him the lesson that he learned today by someone's anonymous donation.  And to whomever you were yesterday on my front porch, we thank God for you, your heart, and pray that you receive blessings in return 10-fold. 

I'd also like to thank each and every one of you who have donated, from 1 dollar on up your donations have been adding up.  I'm excited to announce that we've raised enough money to bring Imani home and we are stepping closer towards raising enough to bring Galvani home as well!  You've helped to bring an innocent child home forever, let's continue to spread the news so that we can bring both of them home.

Thank you!