What a Difference a Family Makes!

Anna Rakeb has been home for two months!

She is growing, gaining weight, trying new foods, learning new words, and being loved and adored by her four brothers and mom and dad.

God has rescued her from so much already and we can’t wait to see the story He will continue to write for her life.

Thanks to all who have had a part in bringing Anna home to us, her forever family.  Adoption is spiritual warfare and it is not easy, but each prayer, encouragement, and financial gift made a difference in our daughter’s life.

before & after FAMILY

Ethiopia Adoption: Introducing our Anna Rakeb

Many, many thanks to our friends and family who have supported us in this journey through encouragement, prayers, financial gifts, and many other ways.

Many of you have been following the progress of our puzzle fundraiser on Facebook this week.  We have been humbled by the amazing response and it is with thankful hearts that we announce that this final trip is fully funded!  God is good, and He has used many of you to bless our family.  Thank you.

And if we have learned anything from this adoption, it is that God fully provides for what He calls you to.  He does “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think!”

adoption fundraiser puzzle

This weekend hubby and our oldest son embark on one final trip to Ethiopia to bring our Anna home!  I can’t think of a more fitting weekend than Easter for this adoption to become reality.  New life and hope all wrapped up in a long-anticipated gotcha day!

Anna Rakeb’s story is one of rescue and God’s grace and mercy.  When she was found, the police named her Rakeb, which is Amharic for Rahab.  If you know the biblical story of Rahab, her faith in Jehovah God was demonstrated by hiding Israelite spies before her home city of Jericho was destroyed. Her faith was seen, and God hid her as the walls of the city came down.  What’s more, is that Rahab was grafted into the line of Christ and finds her place in the great faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11.  We love this name!

Anna comes from the Hebrew word for “grace”.  We pray that our Anna would come to personally know God’s grace and mercy in her life as she gets older.

We are so happy to finally be bringing her home!

Until I can post gotcha day and airport pictures, enjoy this video from our original trip in February when we first met her.

Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser Update

Hello friends!  We are so humbled and thankful for your generosity as we launched our last adoption fundraiser this week!

We purchased a 252 piece puzzle of our daughter, Anna Rakeb, and for each $10 donation toward our adoption at Pure Charity, we are putting the puzzle together piece by piece.

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

To make this a very special keepsake for Anna, we are writing the names of every donor on the back of the puzzle pieces.  Then, when the puzzle is finished, we will display it in a double sided glass frame, so we can still see the names on the back.

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

And today, just 5 days in, we are at 48%!  Will you help tip us over 50%?  These funds are tax deductible through our Pure Charity site and go directly to our adoption agency for our final travel costs to bring Anna home.  Really, we will probably be traveling in the next few weeks.

So… here’s what our puzzle looks like tonight!  Thank you so much for your support!  Keep it coming, and feel free to share far and wide.  Adoption truly does take a community.

ethiopia adoption puzzle fundraiser

 

Our family is thrilled to be Making Room 4 One More.  Will you be part of our story too?

 

{In case you missed our Ethiopia Court Trip recap, you can start here}

{Did you ever see the face that inspired us to start our own Ethiopian adoption journey?  It’s here.}

snapshots of Ethiopia – Trip 1 Day 5 Court!

{Here’s Day 1, 2, 3 & 4}

The purpose of this trip to Ethiopia was to, of course, finally meet our sweet girl.  But this trip is called the “Court Trip” because we officially and legally in Ethiopia went before a judge and adopted her!  She is our daughter now, even though we are home and she is still in the foster home.  We are waiting for “Gotcha Day!”  (So many biblical parallels to our faith in this picture.)

Right after breakfast on Tuesday, February 24th, our driver and lawyer drove us on those crazy streets of Addis Ababa to the Federal Court Building for our appointment.

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.com

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.com

About nine other couples were there at court too.  Most of them were from the US, but others were from Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.

One by one, each family was called into the judge’s chamber.  We were overdressed in our business casual clothes.  He asked us ten easy questions as he went down a checklist.  Then, he said that the court approved our adoption!

On the drive back to the guesthouse for lunch, we saw an interesting sight and had to take a few pictures as best we could out of the car window.  Very colorful.  Can you tell what these are??

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.com

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.com

Why, they’re “corpse boxes” of course!  We had a hard time asking our driver and lawyer what these were called.  We said “coffin”, “casket”, “for dead bodies”, and they still didn’t know what we were talking about!  I guess it didn’t seem odd to them that they were for sale along a busy street.  And so colorful!  Finally, it clicked and they said, “Oh, corpse boxes!”

We visited our daughter (yes, she was now legally our daughter!) again in the afternoon.  One of the nannies made coffee for us as the foster home.

ethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.comethiopia adoption court trip 4onemore.com

Two more days of visiting and bonding with our daughter before we had to be on our way home.  Trying to soak in every minute with her.

 

snapshots of Ethiopia — First Trip Day 4

Just showing off my photos from our 4th day in Ethiopia!  Maybe by the time I’m done this little series, it will be time to go pick up our girl.  Then I will show you her face!

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

So, with two days to prepare for our trip to Africa, we left our house in PA on Thursday morning, February 19th, with a direct flight to Addis on Friday morning.

Day 1, 2, and 3 are here.

Day 4 was Monday, February 23rd, and once again we were looking forward to getting caught up with sleep.  We were surprised when, once again like Sunday morning, the live singing started over the loud speaker in the town and woke us up starting around 1 a.m.  It continued throughout the morning.  When we asked the guesthouse staff why there was singing on a Monday, we learned it was a holy day for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  We said — does this mean there will be no singing tomorrow morning?!  We were assured not!  Whew!

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @ 4onemore.com

Peering out of our guest home windows on the second floor, we could also see a man in the streets with a curved horn, stopping at every side road and path, also “singing”.  We learned he was the town crier, and he was announcing a funeral that would happen that afternoon.

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @ 4onemore.com

Today’s visit was the best ever — complete with belly laugh!  And the best fun?  No toys or stuffed animals or even bubbles could compare with the game of emptying out mommy’s purse and filling it up again.  Hey, whatever works.

After our morning visit with our girl, we headed out to do some shopping!  Our driver went with us and helped with the language barrier and also with the bargaining.

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @ 4onemore.com

I really wanted to get some items for our daughter to have from her birth country.  I hope I bought enough keepsakes to give her one each year on her “gotcha day” (the day when she will leave the orphanage!).  Then, when she has a home of her own, she will have some special items from Ethiopia.

ethiopia adoption trip day 4 @ 4onemore.com

 

Day 5 would be the whole reason for this trip — Court!

 

snapshots of Ethiopia – First Trip Day 3

{In case you missed it, here is Day 1 & Day 2}

We were excited to be finally going to bed early on Saturday night, since we had been up for over 30 hours.  It had been an emotional day as well — meeting our sweet girl for the very first time!

So, at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning, we were awakened by singing from a church.  It was being played on speakers all morning long.  We somehow managed to snooze but were awakened every hour with more singing.

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

At breakfast, we asked the ladies at the guesthouse where the singing was coming from.  They told us it was from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on the hill.  Since it was Sunday, John asked if we could visit an Orthodox Church.  He really wanted to observe their worship service.  Instead, our driver took us to the big “tourist church.”  It was the Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

But I can’t complain — it was a really neat outing!

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

Don’t forget that the Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon, was from Ethiopia.  Ethiopian rulers have traced their lineage to the Solomonic dynasty through Sheba.

ethiopian adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

Ethiopia has an amazing history, as the oldest independent country in Africa and one of the oldest in the world.  Except for a few years from 1936-1942, when Italy invaded, it has remained free from colonization and outside control.  Emperor Haile Selassie fled Ethiopia during this time, and is buried in the Holy Trinity Church.

IMG_5842

We visited with our girl for as much as we could.  She started opening up little by little.  She is tiny!  We think she is about 18 months old (we don’t know her exact birthdate so this is the best estimate).  However, she was wearing size 12 month clothing.  Oh, so sweet and little!

ethiopia adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

We ventured out for dinner on Sunday night to the Yod Abyssinia Cultural Restaurant.  We tried traditional Ethiopian food.  John had lamb and I had chicken with injera.

ethiopia adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

What is injera?  Wikipedia answers:

Injera is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture. Traditionally made out of teff flour, it is a national dish in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

ethiopia adoption trip day three @ 4onemore.com

How was the food?  One word in capital letters:  SPICY!  Makes our American food seem really bland in comparison.

The crazy part of this trip was that we did not have internet access from the time we arrived until probably Monday.  Even at that point, internet connection was still spotty at times.  We felt very disconnected from our boys back home!   It’s amazing how much we have come to rely on technology for fast communication.  When you don’t have it, you miss it.

snapshots of Ethiopia – First Trip Day 2

{This post is a continuation of my recap of our recent trip to Ethiopia to meet our girl and adopt her!  You can read about Day 1 here.}

Saturday, February 21st

The guest home is very nice for local standards. It has a gate, barbed wire, and a guard on duty all the time. The surrounding area is very poor, but not as poor as it gets, apparently. We have a western bathroom, which is a luxury. And toilet paper.

The foster home is on a cobblestone street and is a pretty little property with flowers and trees.

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

We got out of the car, and no one told us what to do. Another adoptive family was there, thankfully, and grabbed our phone to take a video. They brought our sweet girl right out, and she looked just like the pictures!

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

To us, it was like 2 a.m., and it all kind of felt like a dream.  She was nervous with us at first — of course!  Who could blame her?  Who were these strange looking people speaking a strange language?  We were able to visit with her for several hours that first day.

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

By the time we went to bed on Saturday night, we had been up about 32 hours with a few tiny naps.  We went to bed hoping for a quiet night’s sleep.  But we were in for a rude awakening at about 1 o’clock in the morning!

{I know, I know — you all want to finally see pictures of our sweet girl, right??  Well, she is legally our daughter, and we are technically allowed to post pictures of her.  But since she is still in Ethiopia and we are home until our US Embassy appointment in Addis Ababa, we’d rather not show her picture all over the internet.  We hope you understand.  But, hopefully in the next month or so, we will be able to show you!}

 

 

Read about Day 3 here.

snapshots of Ethiopia – First Trip Day 1

Welcome, friend.  Come on in and grab a cup of coffee while I show you some snapshots from our recent court trip to Ethiopia~!

Here’s how the week went down.

On Tuesday February 17th at about 1:30pm, John calls me and says something to the effect of: “Are you sitting down? We need to be in Ethiopia THIS Saturday!!”

What?? So the rest of that day and all the next we scrambled to get our 4 boys taken care of, pack our necessities, get cash from the bank, and get our documents in order.  (Thank you to our family and friends who helped us tremendously in this regard — you know who you are!!)

On Thursday we started our trek by heading to Harrisburg in below zero frigid temps to get some final documents state certified.

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

We stayed overnight with family in Virginia, and on Friday morning my brother dropped us off at Dulles International at 7:30 a.m., with departure at 10:30 a.m.

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

On the twelve hour direct flight, we enjoyed the view as we headed over NYC, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Canadian ice flows.

Then we didn’t see anything else until the lights of Italy sometime in the middle of the night. Afternoon? Night? We were so mixed up with flying East and over several timezones.

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore

The continent looked dark until we experienced our first African sunrise.

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

Then we saw the rugged terrain of Ethiopia and the capital city of Addis Ababa.

ethiopia adoption trip 4onemore.com

We landed about 7 a.m. local time on Saturday, February 21st. It took almost two hours to get through customs at the airport. Our driver was waiting for us outside the airport and had a hard time loading our two suitcases into his 1980’s Corolla.

He drove us right to the Guesthouse. Boy, was that drive ever scary!   Pedestrians and cars play chicken with each other to get the right of way. No stoplights.  Several traffic circles. Honking horns warn people to get out of the way.

This is exactly what it was like!  But it’s a lot easier to watch this from above.  Imagine being in a small vehicle with no seatbelt down in the middle of all the action.

We were experiencing jet lag and culture shock!

But seeing Africa on our local weather forecast was amazing.  We were finally here!

africa weather

We had about one hour at the guest house to freshen up before our driver took us to the foster home to meet our sweet girl!

{Read about Day 2 here}

Our first trip to Ethiopia

We were astounded two weeks ago to find out that we had barely two days to prepare for our first adoption trip to Ethiopia!  In the stressful process of getting documents ready to be updated, we had a phone call from our agency letting us know that we needed to be in the country ASAP.  Wow, the news we had been waiting so long for had finally arrived.

welcome to ethiopia

We were in Ethiopia for six days and it took nearly that whole time to get used to the sights, sounds, smells, food, and weather (we left a very wintery mix in PA, so this 80 degree weather is delightful) –> not to mention the time zone change!

ethiopia trip

We met our sweet girl after being up for over 24 hours.  It was a wonderful, happy, nervous meeting all wrapped up into one.  She is officially and legally our daughter now, as we appeared before the Ethiopian judge last week and he approved our adoption.  We are home now without her while the US Embassy does their part to ready her documents for travel.

I’ll share more about our trip in the days to come.  Thanks for all the prayers and support!

 

{For details of our trip, continue reading here…}