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Friday, June 27, 2008

Turtle Eggs!

OK - so my kids have a turtle fetish. Actually, they are completely enthralled with tiny turtles and spend a good chunk of a summer day trying to catch them. Both of the girls have become quite the experts on finding, stalking and then catching turtles.

Turtles are surprisingly elusive. They love to sun themselves on logs in the middle of a pond - but they keep a careful eye out for predators and are quick to sprint off the log and disappear into the water. But if you are very, very patient and move very slowly (with waders and a long net), you can catch one before they flip themselves into the water. The kids have caught 31 so far this year (they are keeping count) and 9 of them have been about the size of a tennis ball. Small enough to live the "good life" in an aquarium for a few weeks before being released again.

Lately, the turtles have been scarce, which led us to presume they are off laying eggs. Sure enough, today we actually happened upon a painted turtle digging a hole by a driveway. She paid no attention to us as we watched her dig a long tube of a hole with her back legs. Excavating dirt with one back leg, and then reaching in with the other to pull out another paw-full. Then she laid 4 eggs in the tube-shaped hole (4 soft-shelled, oblong eggs) and then proceeded to cover them with dirt.

We marked the location of the nest with popsicle sticks so we can watch for the baby turtles to emerge. What a great summer day for the kids - they were so excited to actually see a turtle laying eggs and they have high hopes of seeing the hatchlings emerge.

10 Referrals in June!

According to our adoption agency's blog ( there were 10 children referred to families during the month of June. Two of those children are our sons - ages 2 & 7 - and we are anxious to have them home with us. This is a milestone for our agency as referrals seemed to be painstakingly slow for many months. With the recent partnership with a second orphanage in Addis Ababa, the referrals have been moving along at a good pace. Our agency representative mentioned during a recent conference call that 10 referrals per month was a good goal - and that goal has been achieved this month! Ultimately, this means more children matched up with their forever families!!

So far this year, 32 children from Ethiopia have come home with adoptive families through our agency (AWAA). There have been 35 referrals since January. Go AWAA!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Care Packages Sent to Ethiopia

YESSS! Summer is finally here. It seems that summer takes a long time to actually arrive in Minnesota. Backyard baseball games are in full swing, swimming pools have water in them again, sundown arrives at 9pm or later, and we all have slightly sunburned cheeks. We love summer!
We recently sent 2 separate "care packages" to our boys in Ethiopia. We sent one package to our agency to be delivered with the next Fed Ex package of dossiers. And the other care package will be hand-delivered (with hugs and kisses) by the Gibson family who will be in Ethiopia July 5-12 to pick up their baby girl Zoie.

There are 3 familes (within our adoption agency - AWAA) travelling the first week of July to bring their children home. We hope to be among the next set or two of travel groups. There are currently 3 families with a scheduled court date of July 15 - and there are 7 families with referrals who are anxiously awaiting news of a court date before the courts close in August and September. We are among those 7 families. Please continue to pray for a court date in JULY! Let's bring these kids home to their forever families!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Soccer Mom & Dad?

Between games and practice, we are at the soccer fields on Monday night, Tuesday night, Thursday night and Sunday night. Does that officially classify us as a "Soccer Mom" and "Soccer Dad"? I wonder if our little boys in Ethiopia will like soccer as much as our not-so-little girls.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I Have a Lot of Catching Up to Do!

The photo above was taken at the Pier on Sanibel Island, Florida and you can see thousands of "minnows" swimming through our shadows. This is a family vacation that we have taken in June for the last 9 years straight. My parents along with my brother and sister - and their families - spend a week together after school is out. It has become a favorite family tradition, and one that the kids look forward to each year. It is a week of relaxation for the adults - and uninterrupted play-time for the 8 kid cousins. (Next year there will be 2 more!) Now that our family lives a state away from everyone else, this is a wonderful treat for all of us! We love Sanibel Island!!

Just before we left for Sanibel, we received our referral for our 2 boys in Ethiopia. A "referral" means that our adoption agency has matched our family with a specific child or children from an orphanage in Ethiopia. Our agency recommends that we review the referral information with a physician that is familiar with the types of medical concerns typical to Ethiopia so that we can make an informed decision. The University of MN Adoption Clinic offers this service and they were quick to respond and extremely thorough.

After this consultation, we immediately accepted our referral, and now our agency is processing the appropriate paperwork and petitioning the Ethiopia courts for a court appointment. The courts close for 2 months each year, in August and September, and initially it seemed that there would be plenty of time between our referral date of June 3 and the court closure in August. Families within our agency that our one month ahead of us in the process just received their court date for July 15 - which is wonderful news for them, but does not bode well for us. If we continue with that kind of time frame, that would put us well into August for a court appointment - the courts will be closed which would put us on hold until October or later. And our little boys would have to spend a few months more in Ethiopia. Your prayers for an expedited court date in JULY would be very appreciated!!

Here's the whole crew vacationing on Sanibel Island, FL. (June 2008)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Introducing Us!

About a year ago (April 2007) we decided to expand our family through adoption. Adoption was an idea we had entertained for many years, but had not taken any serious steps ... until now. Our two daughters (Ages 11 & 9) kept asking about a little brother or a little sister, so last spring we contacted a few adoption agencies and began to seriously consider moving forward. At first, the idea was rather intimidating, but the more research we did and the more stories we heard, the more natural it began to seem. Now - a year into the process, expanding our family through adoption seems like the most natural step we could take.
After reviewing the information from various countries, each of us independently gave an opinion on which country we felt drawn to. Surprisingly, the decision was unanimous - Ethiopia. A small country in the "horn of Africa" with a fascinating, proud history and a sad legacy of famine, extreme poverty and millions of orphans desparately needing a forever family. Our journey began as we completed our application with America World Adoption (AWAA). We requested 2 children between the ages of 1 & 7 as we felt this would be a good fit for our family.
The process is long and can be daunting, but a little more than a year later, we received our referral for 2 little boys in need of a family. On June 3, 2008, we were notified of these 2 precious boys, ages 7 & 2. Their personal histories are heart-breaking and we have chosen to keep them private and for the boys to choose if and when to share. At the moment, we are now waiting for a court date in Ethiopia - when the boys will legally become our children. Our agency will represent us in court - and once we have a successful court date, we will travel to Ethiopia to bring them home within 2-4 weeks after the court date.
Until then - we will keep you posted of our progress and our journey as we transition from a family of 4 to a family of 6!