My Favorite Sound

While my husband was out of town on a business trip over the last few days, Evangelle and I were able to spend some quality girl time together. We made sure to fit in plenty of the usual girl stuff like dancing, shopping, drama, and a few tears.  

But most importantly, there was giggling, lots of giggling…

We’ve had much more fun around here since Evangelle finally realized that
she’s ticklish!

One Month Later

Dressed & ready for church!

It was one month ago today that Evangelle first entered our home. Someone asked me this weekend what I’ve found most surprising about our time together so far, and I was grateful that I could honestly respond, “How easy it’s been!” 

As I anticipated Evangelle’s arrival, I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of any number of difficulties that might appear during her transition from abandoned orphan to beloved daughter—illness or disease, attachment issues, developmental delays, etc. So far however, the greatest challenge we’ve faced is figuring out how to satisfy her growing belly!

One of my dear friends recently told me she believed it was a miracle that Evangelle has adjusted to life with us so easily after all she’d been through during her first 11 months on earth. I wholeheartedly agree that God’s grace is everywhere evident in our experience. He has certainly been kind in easing us gently into our life as parents.

Evangelle is truly the happiest baby I’ve ever known. She wakes up in the morning smiling, kicking her feet, and ready for a day of fun. She’s so incredibly active that she has a hard time sitting still for cuddling, so I have to take advantage of her sleepy moments.

As soon as she wakes up from a nap, I wrap her up in her little fuzzy blanket and sit down to hold her close. She usually stays groggy for a short time and as a result is content to lean against my chest, quietly sucking on her thumb. As you might imagine, those brief minutes of cuddling are the best moments in my day.

Being Evangelle’s mommy is such an honor to me. Infertility, childlessness, and the long wait to adopt were all painful trials in my life, but every moment of darkness that I experienced then has only made the joys of motherhood shine that much brighter.

Sometimes people comment on how blessed they believe Evangelle is to be adopted into our family and have Joseph and me as her parents. I genuinely appreciate the kindness reflected in such statements and sincerely hope that Evangelle will one day see us as a blessing in her life. But for now at least, all I know is that I’m the one who’s been given an incredible gift.

Thank you, Jesus. This has been one amazing month. 

Fun, Firsts, & Feet

Joseph and I have enjoyed another great week with Evangelle. Over the last few days, she’s definitely shown symptoms of teething, although I still can’t see any evidence of the teeth yet! In spite of some apparent discomfort and occasional fussiness, Evangelle has remained active, playful, and funny most of the time.

Since she’s been home for 2 weeks now, we’ve felt comfortable having a few more visitors over to meet her, and Evangelle has managed to charm them all. I think she’s going to become quite the little social butterfly.

The Lord has graciously continued to bless us in regard to her health. We’ve received good results on Evangelle’s medical tests, and she has a great appetite. We’re working on adding some rolls to her little thighs and the size of her belly is progressing nicely.:)

Hope you enjoy the new photos! 

First walk in the park!

Meeting her prayer warriors, Jerry & Kay

Enjoying her first teething biscuit

Just to prove she doesn’t smile all the time… Better be careful getting between this girl and her teething biscuit!

Poor bunny must have gotten on her bad side.

Standing on her own two feet by herself for the first time!

Speaking of feet… Aren’t these the cutest little things?

Precious Moments with Evangelle

Just wanted to stop in to provide you with a little photo update of Evangelle’s progress at home. She’s doing wonderfully and continues to keep us smiling and laughing throughout the day.

Each morning when she wakes up, I pull her into bed with me in the hope that I can convince her we both need more sleep. For some reason, I’ve been unsuccessful in my endeavors, but I’ll keep trying. 

Evangelle is turning into quite the little copycat. From blowing kisses, to clapping, to clicking her tongue, if Mommy does it, Evangelle can try to do it too.

She enjoys saying da-da-da-da and ma-ma-ma-ma. I like to think she enjoys talking about her Mommy and Daddy, but it’s probably more likely that she just likes the way those particular syllables feel on her tongue.

Since she’s gumming more and more objects, I’m pretty sure Evangelle’s working on filling in some of the empty space in her toothless mouth. With the advent of teething on its way, the days ahead may prove to be slightly more challenging, but as of now, Joseph and I are still wondering how in the world we got such a happy baby!

Here a few pics of her recent activities…

Playing with the handmade ball we brought home from Ethiopia

Checking out the train that daddy played with as a child

Thumb-sucking is a sure sign it’s time for a nap!

Such a curious little girl! She loves exploring her surroundings.

Ready for her bedtime bottle!

Life with Netsie

On our drive home to North Carolina

We do a lot of smiling around here these days.

Joseph and I have enjoyed over a week of life with Netsie so far, and we both believe the experience deserves two enthusiastic thumbs-up (or is that four?).

In spite of all the upheaval she’s been through during the last 10 days, Netsie-Evangelle (as I sometimes call her to transition her to her new name) has continually amazed us with her contented and happy spirit. She begins and ends her days with smiles, and she makes sure that her mommy and daddy do the same. Funny faces are her specialty!

Excited about getting some sweet potato puffs!

We’ve begun establishing something of a routine at home, and aside from a little fatigue on Joseph’s and my part, things are progressing well. I could tell the jetlag was affecting Evangelle during the first few days, but she seems to have adjusted now and only wakes up once overnight.

She has a good appetite and loves rice cereal mixed with fresh avocados, bananas, or sweet potatoes. We’re doing our best to strengthen Evangelle’s immune system and get some more meat on her bones. Because of how small she is for her age (15 1/2 lbs. at almost 11 mos.) the doctor said we cannot overfeed her at this point.

Having fun with her new camera from Aunt Niki & Uncle Taaron

Our only real snag came during her visit to the pediatrician on Wednesday as the nurses struggled for far too long to extract 4 vials of blood from her tiny veins. After more than 20 minutes of holding our poor baby down while she screamed in terror, the nurses suggested giving it one more try to fill the last vial. My husband told them politely that we were done. I know the nurses were doing their best, but it was a terrible experience for all of us.

The next day, Evangelle still didn’t seem to be over the trauma and showed me for the first time that she was indeed capable of being fussy. I didn’t blame her.

On a brighter note, the pediatrician told us that Evangelle’s lungs were clear, so she no longer needed the help of an inhaler. He also said she showed no signs of an ear infection and told us we could discontinue the antibiotic that was prescribed for her in Ethiopia since her intestinal issues have been resolved.

We’re still waiting on the results of blood tests, but at this point Joseph and I are thanking the Lord for Evangelle’s clean bill of health!

Checking out her friend Tizita's blog

Evangelle & Ethiopia

Here’s a quick update on our trip to Ethiopia…

After a safe and uneventful flight, Joseph and I arrived in Addis Ababa on Tuesday morning around 7 a.m. Once we dropped our luggage off at our guest house and changed clothes, we immediately headed out with Brian and Jeanne Boughner to Acacia Village to pick up our little ones. Talk about a whirlwind of a morning!

When Evangelle (or Netsie, as she’s been called by the staff at Acacia Village) made her appearance, she was dressed in a traditional Ethiopian gown with a matching scarf tied around her head. We were overjoyed to take our beautiful girl in our arms once again. Evangelle, on the other hand, was probably just wondering why this strange white lady was staring at her and crying.:)

The staff provided a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony for us, complete with popcorn (as is the custom), and then we were allowed to visit Evangelle’s room. I took photos of the little wooden beds where she and her buddy Noah have been bunkmates since December. Before we left, one of the nannies prayed and asked God to bless and protect Noah and Evangelle as they left Acacia Village to begin their new lives. We said our thank yous and goodbyes and headed out, grateful this time to be leaving with our precious children.

Both Noah and Evangelle seemed somewhat shell-shocked that first afternoon. Although Evangelle didn’t cry once, she remained quiet, often sucking rather furiously on her tiny thumb. We soon realized that she wasn’t well. In addition to her congested breathing, she was also experiencing major intestinal disturbances. We suspected that giardi, an intestinal parasite which is common in Ethiopia, was the culprit.

After visiting a clinic, we were told that some type of bacteria, not giardia, was to blame, and the doctor prescribed an antibiotic. For Joseph and me, the last few days have been a blur of rapid-fire explosions and frenzied diaper changes. We demolished a pack of 36 diapers in the first 3 days!

Although it has been a stressful and exhausting time for all of us, Joseph and I have been comforted by the fact that Evangelle hasn’t seemed nearly as troubled by her sickness as we have been. By her second day with us, she began to blossom, smiling, laughing, and making lots of funny faces. As of today, it seems her medicine is finally taking effect and we’re relieved to see some slight improvement in her condition.

In just a few hours we’ll pack up and head to the airport for our long flight home. I’m definitely looking forward to returning to the U.S., but a part of me is sad to say goodbye to Ethiopia. This incredibly beautiful and desperately needy country will always hold a special place in my heart. Perhaps we’ll be able to come back again soon.

Thank you for praying for Evangelle’s health and our safety on the way home. My heart is overflowing with praise for God’s goodness to our family!

Picking Up Precious Cargo

Well, ladies, this is it—my last post on Precious Adornment before Joseph and I set out on our second journey to Ethiopia. I feel like I should have something profound to say, but I can’t seem to come up with words that capture the emotions of the moment.

Our baby is coming home. 

I can hardly believe that after all of the tears, waiting, and longing, Evangelle will soon be in our arms again, and this time, she’ll be there to stay.

Thank you, Lord. 

Although the Internet service was spotty during our last visit to Ethiopia, I will do my best to post an update if I’m able while we’re in the country. Then once we get home, I will, of course, share photos with you when I have the opportunity.

While we adjust to our new life together, I imagine that things will remain somewhat quiet on Precious Adornment for a while, but I hope to return to a regular schedule of posting once Joseph, Evangelle, and I have settled into a comfortable rhythm at home.

Thank you for your prayers, thank you for sharing our joys as well as our sorrows, and thank you for caring so deeply for a little girl whom you’ve
never met. 

God has done something profound through all of this. May His name be glorified.

Image Credit

News We Don’t Want to Hear

Well, ladies, I know I’ve been asking you for prayer quite often these days, and I hope you don’t mind if I add another request to the list. 

The last few days have become increasingly difficult for me in regard to what feels like a never-ending wait for the completion of our adoption. Yesterday morning, Joseph and I were disappointed to hear that our adoption agency had not made any progress in getting the information necessary for the U.S. Embassy to contact the police officer associated with Evangelle’s case.

Then, last night, I received a newsletter from Christian World Adoption which contained troubling news about how certain adoption cases are being handled by the embassy. I’ve included part of that newsletter below.

Recently, the embassy has begun asking for the phone number of the police officer involved when a child has been found abandoned. The embassy then proceeds to contact the police officer to discuss the circumstances surrounding the child’s abandonment. This process has not been as successful in satisfying the embassy as to the orphan status of the adopted child.

We have now had 3 cases for abandoned children that have been forwarded to the USCIS [United States Citizen and Immigration Services] office in Nairobi for review. The 3rd case was just sent this week, but in the first two cases USCIS has approved the orphan status of the children within days of receipt. What we want you to be aware of is that having your case forwarded to Nairobi is not a denial for a visa. Upon receipt of the case the USCIS office can do one of three things. They can approve the case; they can make an RFE (request for more evidence); or they can deny the case outright.

We want to assure you that CWA’s partner orphanages take great care to provide all the documentation necessary to support the orphan status of each child we refer. The fact that the U.S. Embassy does not automatically determine that they can determine the orphan status of a child does not mean that anything is particularly wrong. It just means that they feel they have reached the limit of their authority to judge the validity of a case and prefer to have USCIS do an additional review.

I know that it’s not easy to understand what’s being communicated here, but basically, our concern is that the U.S. Embassy may not be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to prove Evangelle’s status as an orphan and may pass the case on to the United States Citizen and Immigration Services office in Nairobi.

If that happened, there is a chance that Evangelle’s case could be denied, which would mean that although she is legally our child, she would not be allowed to leave the country.

Yesterday was a rough day for me, and I spent more time in tears than I have over the past 9 weeks since we have been apart from Evangelle. I know the Lord is in control and I am clinging to Him, but still, this is a trying time.

All Joseph and I can do right now is pray, and I would be deeply grateful if you would join us in asking God to move in this situation and allow Evangelle’s case to be approved so we can bring her home quickly. 

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation. Selah” (Psalm 68:19).

The Hardest Part Yet

“And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect
and entire, lacking in nothing.”

James 1:4

“You must be a very patient person,” someone recently told me after hearing how long Joseph and I have been waiting to adopt.

Um…no. That’s a nice thought though.

Although I couldn’t honestly describe myself as a patient person, I do believe that God has used these years of waiting to cultivate the fruit of patience in my life. The fruit’s not exactly ready for picking yet, but it is growing.😉

It doesn’t matter what you have your heart set on—a child, a job, marriage, good health—the process of waiting for the fulfillment of that desire is always a challenge. It’s easy to become so focused on getting what you want that you begin to believe you simply cannot be happy without it. When we reach that point, our faith is in a dangerous place.

These last few days of waiting have been the most difficult of any of the past 2 1/2 years. As far as we know, we’re only weeks away from bringing Evangelle home, yet I struggle with feeling as though that day will never come. Each new photo only serves as a reminder that our daughter is growing up without us, and I have to be honest, that hurts.

What are God’s reasons for causing us to wait so long? I could waste a lot of time trying to answer questions like that, but I really don’t. All I need to know is that God is perfectly wise, perfectly loving, and perfectly sovereign. He has His reasons, and that is enough for me. My job is simply to rest in Him as I wait on His timing.

In his book Feelings and Faith, Brian Borgman says:

The psalmist…says, “When the cares of the heart are many, your consolations delight my soul” (Ps. 94:19). In other words, he is saying, “I overcome anxiety by focusing on the consolations, the promises, you have given me in your Word.” The psalmist again calls to the saints, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes” (Ps. 37:7, NASB).

Rest equals trusting in who God is and what he has promised to be for us. Resting gives power to stop fretting. Trusting provides the platform of emotional stability and strength. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Ps. 55:22; cf. 1 Pet. 5:7). [p. 130]

What are you waiting on in life? Although we may not have control over the wait, we do have control over how we wait. By God’s grace, let’s trust in who He is and what He has promised to be for us today. 

Let’s not allow our wait to go to waste!

One More Week Down…

Evangelle at 9 months

And now for your weekly adoption update…:)

Yesterday marked one week since our adoption agency submitted our paperwork to the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa. I told Joseph it felt like the longest week of my life! We did receive confirmation from the Embassy that they have received our paperwork and are processing our case, which was good to hear.

We also received new photos of Evangelle yesterday (always a welcome event!), most were blurry, but there were a few good ones. The photos were accompanied by a note from one of the staff members at Acacia Village: “This baby girl so so active and growing everyday. She is always happy and smiley.” 

Evangelle definitely looks happy, and we can tell she is growing! When we saw her at the beginning of January, she only weighed 10 1/2 lbs. Now at 9 months, she is nearing 14 lbs.! Poor little girl also has her first ear infection; we’re praying she’ll recover from that soon.

Meanwhile, back at home in North Carolina, Joseph and I have been busily preparing for Evangelle’s arrival. I’m finishing up some decorative painting in the nursery, Joseph has been painting walls, setting up the crib and other furniture, and is getting ready to wire our new lighting. Once we finish those tasks, we’ll be ready to put everything in its place. It’s good that we have so many projects to work on during these last few weeks of our wait—at least we’re able to spend our time painting the walls instead of crawling them!   

Almost There

Praise the Lord, Joseph, Evangelle, and I are one step closer to being together as a family! 

Our case was successfully submitted to the U.S. Embassy yesterday as we were hoping. This means that we should be contacted by the Embassy in 2-3 weeks to schedule our return trip. From what we understand, once we hear from the Embassy, we’ll have about 6 days before we need to be in Ethiopia.

It was a blessed relief to receive this news today. An added bonus is that 3 other families who were with us during our first trip to Ethiopia also had their cases submitted yesterday. There are a few more families who are still waiting though, so I’d be so grateful if you would pray that they would receive good news next Tuesday as well. The wait has been taxing on all involved, but the Lord has been faithful to provide the strength that we need.

Joseph and I are excited. We have a lot to do over the coming weeks before we’re fully prepared for Evangelle’s arrival, but it’s good that we have some projects to keep our attention focused. We just can’t wait to see that little girl!

The Prayers That Are Bringing Evangelle Home

“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

James 5:16b

During our 2 hour phone call last week, my friend Elizabeth asked me to share the spiritual lessons I was learning lately. (It’s a good friend who will ask questions like that, by the way).

Although there have been plenty of times in my life when I would need to stop and think before I could answer a question like that, on this occasion I knew the answer immediately. Throughout the long process of our adoption, God has been convicting and convincing me about the vital role that prayer plays in His will being accomplished.

When Joseph and I first began the adoption process back in September 2009, we decided to keep our new endeavor private until the time when its completion was months, rather than years away. Just imagine having to answer questions about your pregnancy for 2 ½ years and you’ll understand our reasoning. ;) 

Since I knew the adoption would take a long time, I tried not to think about it too often. This approach was good in that I didn’t worry much about the process, but bad in that I also didn’t pray enough about what was or was not taking place.

As the wait dragged on, Joseph and I ended up telling more people, and those people began praying. When more people began praying, more progress began to take place. It soon became clear to me that God intended to bring our daughter home through the prayers of His people. Looking back now, I have so many sweet memories of how others have expressed their love to us through prayer.

I think of…  

My sister Niki who has prayed about our adoption nearly every day for the last 2 ½ years.

Susan, a dear woman still grieving the loss of her husband one year before, who prayed with tears that God would intervene in the long wait of our adoption process and give us a child. Only two weeks later, He sent our referral.

Jerry, who first heard about Evangelle and saw her picture during a party at our house and asked that we all stop right then so he could pray for her safety and soon arrival home.

Kay, who told me she believed it was her job to pray God would send someone special to Evangelle to love and hold her during her stay at the orphanage, and who also told me she was “going to war” for us concerning a complication with our adoption. The next day we received a major answer to prayer in regard to that very complication.

Carroll, who wrote to let me know she and her husband were fasting and praying that God would send our baby home to us soon.

Dan and Judy, who, in spite of being in the midst of their own great suffering, put their arms around me after church to pray for Evangelle. Only 6 weeks later, Judy entered the presence of our Savior.

These are just a few of the sweet and precious prayers that I know of, and I have no doubt there have been hundreds more offered by our friends and family members over the past several months. God has heard and answered every one. When He brings Evangelle home, she’ll arrive on the wings of these prayers.

Tomorrow, our adoption agency hopes to send the U.S. embassy the final paperwork necessary for us to return to Ethiopia. Will you join us in praying that everything will be completed on time and that we will be scheduled for travel by the beginning of March? 

Update on Evangelle

Thank you so much for praying for Evangelle!

We’ve received a more detailed update on her health from the nurse at Acacia Village, and it sounds as though she is much improved. Apparently, the chest congestion Evangelle had when we visited never went away, and she eventually developed flu-like symptoms and had a high fever two days in a row. She was diagnosed with bronchitis about one week ago and was placed on antibiotics.

The nurse said that Evangelle has not had another fever since she went on antibiotics, and that she did not lose any weight while she was sick. Apparently, the rattling sound which Evangelle has had since December 22 is now gone, which is wonderful news.

We also received a new update on Evangelle’s growth, and we were thankful to see that she has gained almost a pound since our visit one month ago. At just over 11 lbs. at eight months, she’s still a tiny girl, but it is comforting to know that she is eating well and making progress with her weight gain.

Again, I can’t thank you enough for loving and praying for our little one. God has greatly encouraged me through your support!